Friday, July 14, 2023

The Political Desk: Summer Rush Edition

 So, the King County Voters Pamphlet showed up a few days ago, but I chose to wait to post only because I tend to make my comments based on what I actually can vote on, and only rarely (though occasionally) wander out into other jurisdictions. 

The 2023 elections are already being overshadowed by the 2024 elections in this state. That's not just because of the Presidential Election is next year (though Washington State is reliably blue), but because the Governor of the past 12 years is not running for re-election. As a result, a leading contenders on the Dem side are the current state's Attorney General and Commissioner of Public Lands. And as a result of THAT other candidates are leaving THEIR jobs and running for THOSE positions. In other words, it is like entire elected state government is a big Boggle Cube and we've hit it with a hammer. But that's not what I need to talk about.

Similarly, the City of Seattle is currently having a big thing this year in that they have 7 open seats, and so we have a raft (45 candidates) of newcomers vying for their positions. But I don't vote in Seattle's city elections, so while I will point you in the direction of people who DO talk about it, I have no further advice.

And FURTHERMORE, there are a number of seats on the King County Council that are up, but they are in even-numbered districts, and Grubb Street is an odd-numbered district, so, again, there is no election for us.

And this is why I DON'T like the idea of moving major elections to even-numbered years. From a marketing side, I want people to go vote. Without big-ticket elections, everyone else gets a short shrift. The biggest matchups I'm seeing this cycle are things like Port Authority. A lot of school board stuff, and council seats at the micro-local level. These are the solid, working, effective positions - not particularly glitzy, but really important. They just don't have the glitz.

Let's make matters even worse. The day for the Primaries is 1 August. So a lot of people will not worry about it because "it's next month" and then get surprised when election day goes zipping past them at high velocity.

So the bad news is that not of lot of people are paying attention here. The good news, such as it is, is that YOUR vote, should you vote, is worth just a tiny bit more than otherwise. So, you know, go vote. It doesn't even cost you a stamp. Fill it out and mail it back, or drop it off in a plethora of election drop boxes scattered around the county. That simple.

But the smallness of this election creates one further difficulty for the small-time elections. We DON'T have a lot of info on the candidates on this level. We have their Statements in the Voters' Pamphlet, and maybe see some yard signs and MAYBE read something about them in the hyper-local media. So the chances of people running under false flags or not being entirely honest with the voters is high. A few elections back we had someone running for Hospital Board who attended the 6 Jan protests (but not, so far as we know, the riot that followed).. And we had a candidate for School Board that sounded good in the Voters' pamphlet until he chose to reveal the horrors of CRT in the local newspaper. 

So let's keep our eyes open around here. Check endorsements (though candidates can be untruthful about those as well). See who is fronting the money (The Chamber of Commerce, while not an alarm, is a red flag). Take things with a hunk of salt.

Here are some other people's recommendations. The Seattle Times trends further right that most of its readership, is much more pro-business, and just fired a new member of its editorial board for tweeting that Hitler was not THAT bad a guy. The Stranger is a little to the left of its readership, and disappointed that retiring socialist Kwana Shawant is not running for every position. Neither one gets this far south. Here is the Progressive Voters' Guide for the City of Kent. Here are endorsements from Crosscut, which again concentrates on the big urban centers. The Capitol Hill Blog asks a lot of questions to the candidates for District 3 here. Here is covereage from the West Seattle Blog.  Here are endorsements from the Seattle Transit Blog which worries about, well, Seattle transit.  Here and here a couple from the various Democrats. And from the Republicans I have ... nothing. The one I checked said they were putting up a new web site Real Soon Now. 

So what about my recommendations. Well, my own ballot arrived, and it is ... scant. Four items only. See, I told you.


King County Preposition No. 1 Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy. This is the second renewal of a levy that has already done well in previous elections and has proved effective. No one showed up to argue against it in the Voter's Pamphlet - APPROVED.


Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 5, There's always a good scandal at the Port, but of late its challenges have been mostly the result of their own success. The airport is too crowded. Traffic to the airport is a mess. The cruise ships dump thousands of tourists (and their vacation money) at Pike Place Market. Fred Felleman is the man on the scene, has a good environmental record, and wants to offload air freight to nearby JBLM to the south until they finally build a new airport. Yeah, re-elect FRED FELLEMAN


City of Kent Council Position No. 3. From the Voter's Guide, it seems like requirement for this position is children in the Kent Schools and at least one ancestor in Saar Pioneer Cemetery. All candidates want to make a better, safer, more unified Kent. All good things. I'm going with endorsements on this one and voting for JOHN BOYD.


Kent School District No. 415 District No. 415, Director District No. 3. Again, everyone looks good on the Voters' Guide. No red flags or buzz words. Challenger Stephanie Lawson looks good, but incumbent Leslie Kae Hamada has not blown things up, which in these days is a definite plus. For this round I'm going to go with LESLIE KAE HAMADA

That is it for me. The rest of yinz are on your own.   

More later, 

Saturday, July 01, 2023

Theatre: Turned to 11

 Hedwig and the Angry Inch Text by John Cameron Mitchell, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Trask, Directed by Eddie Dehai, Arts West, through 23 July.

Let me give you the bad news first - The sound volumes were a problem. Punk rock levels within a small venue. As a result, both the Lovely Bride and I lost a lot of the words to this musical. Which is a problem, if you expect the lyrics in a musical to help define the characters and move forward the plot. 

And it is a pity, since actors are excellent and their voices are both strong and powerful. Nicholas Japaul Bernard captures Hedwig's talent, ego, and anger in every motion, while Kataka Corn is stellar as suffering husband Yitzhak. Michael B. Maine fills out the trio on stage running multimedia and boards, acting both as quiet support and counterpoint to the leads. 

Here's the plot. Hedwig escapes East Germany by marrying a US Army officer, but to do so, must undergo gender-reassignment surgery, which is badly botched. A year later the marriage breaks up, stranding Hedwig in Kansas. Hedwig rebuilds a life as a singer, teams up with another man who goes onto greatness without her, and marries Yitzak on a European tour. 

And Hedwig is a jerk. Hedwig treats Yitzak as Hedwig had been treated, reducing Yitzak to a Renfield-like supporter, denied their own agenda as Hedwig sings, sashays, and rages their way into a total breakdown. Bernard as Hedwig quips their way through their personal history as their anger within them grows to the final psychotic break. Bernard's music and performance leans more to Tina Turner than David Bowie, and their jokes and asides lean heavily on Seattle references for the local crowd. Corn as Yitzak has the more powerful voice, ultimately, but that's part of the point of the musical. The live band has been replaced with multimedia, which is at its best when it supports and counterpoints the play as opposing to dominating it. 

Ultimately?  Great performances dealing with a limited space. The musical evokes such now-classic era rock operas like Tommy and Rocky Horror Show. The passion is in competition with sheer volume. And that sheer volume sometimes overwhelms and leave the audience battered as opposed to comprehending. It is a good production, but be warned.

More later,