Tag: Seattle (Page 1 of 2)

‘Recruit Bill Bryant for Seattle Mayor’ is Launched Online

It has been more than 50 years since Seattle voters elected a Republican mayor, but that’s not stopping some residents from trying to pull former port commissioner and 2016 Republican candidate for governor Bill Bryant into this year’s mayoral race.

The effort to recruit Bryant to join what is shaping up to be at least an 11-way contest took shape late Wednesday evening in the form of a website – www.recruitbillbryantformayor.com – asking for visitors to sign a petition.

The pitch to recruit Bryant into the race is an appeal to face reality. From the website:

Seattle is in disarray. Local elected officials are unwilling to address the homeless crisis, unable to keep our cost of living from skyrocketing, and refuse to work with businesses to create good, middle class jobs. Scandals and partisan politics have crippled our city. Enough is enough.

As a former Port Commissioner of Seattle, Bill Bryant has a proven record of protecting our environment, helping the homeless get back on their feet, and creating local jobs here in Seattle.

If you’re tired of the say-one-thing-do-another politicians then sign the petition to recruit Bill Bryant to run for Mayor of Seattle. It’s time we had a mayor who is fighting for all of us – the residents and taxpayers – and not the special interests.

It is the issue of the city’s growing population of permanent homeless, the problems it brings, and the failure of the Democrat-controlled city government to affect any positive change that may make the most compelling case for voters in indigo blue Seattle to consider Bryant.

Some may remember last year when Bryant, during a hotly contested partisan campaign for governor, showed up at a city hearing on homeless policy. According to The Seattle Times, the reaction of the crowd to what Bryant had to say was enough to overcome the inertia of Seattle’s extreme partisanship.

Here’s how angry the overflow crowd was at a Seattle City Hall hearing on homeless camping policies: Republican candidate for governor Bill Bryant received an ovation for declaring there should be zero tolerance for camping on public property.

That’s akin to Tom Brady getting a rousing cheer at CenturyLink Field.

The boisterous meeting Friday featured tearful testimony, audience members shouting over City Council members, and a cry for “recall” when Councilmember Mike O’Brien said homeless people have a right to sleep somewhere. The tone was unusual for archliberal Seattle.

Like some others, Bryant, a Seattle resident, said enabling people to live in tents was not compassionate but cruel.

Bryant isn’t alone in his assessment that city policies on homelessness and a host of other plaguing issues are exacerbating problems.

Patti Bishop, a former software entrepreneur and Seattleite since the 1990s, says she will work to get Bryant elected should he step in the race because the need for a change of leadership has reached a tipping point. She cites false compassion in the approaches city hall is taking on critical issues including drug addiction as accelerators of municipal decay.

“We have a beautiful city,” said Bishop. “It’s very sad for many of us to see the direction the city has taken.”

She also believes Bryant would be the only candidate in the race who has identified reasonable solutions. “He’s the only one who’s said, ‘I’m going to address homelessness,’ and had a real step-by-step plan.”

For what it’s worth, if Bryant would consider a run, he played it cool in his statements to the press Thursday most of which followed similar lines to this response he gave to KING-5 political reporter Natalie Brand:

Even to get through the primary, the hill Bryant would need to climb would be steep. In the 2016 gubernatorial race, he grabbed less than 20% of Seattle’s vote. For those who want to retain hope, creative electoral math may yield scenarios to maintain enthusiasm.

If the field of Democrats, socialists and other left-wing competitors for the office continues to expand (there are currently 10 declared candidates), and Bryant occupied the moderate ground on his own, that piece of the pie begins to look slightly more viable in a top two primary. Some will see the prospect of a chaotic scrum as a way of leveling the odds, but the likelihood of narrow margins between candidates increases with every name on the ballot.

Regardless of whether Bryant jumps in and finds enough votes to get through a crowded primary, or jumps in at all, there will still be a void to fill in Seattle politics.

This city that aspires to promote diversity above all else is not just homogeneous in terms of political thought, but the need to conform to canon is policed. When the dominant ideology bears rotten fruit, the policing becomes more severe.

But forced cognitive dissonance is a condition that people do not enjoy living with. They find ways to realign their beliefs with reality. The tool for that realignment may not be Bill Bryant, but it will be someone or something someday.

The petition to recruit Bill Bryant for Seattle mayor can be found at www.recruitbillbryantformayor.com.

The Seattle Way: Tax Soda, Subsidize Heroin All in the Cause of Public Health

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s proposal to slap a new tax on sugary drinks to promote good public health has irked at least one of the city’s restaurant owners. It should be angering even more Seattle business owners and residents, though not for the obvious reasons.

The mayor’s crusade exposes real inconsistencies and skewed priorities in the city’s approach to critical public health issues. Spoiler alert: Seattle is moving toward subsidizing and enable the use of destructive, addictive, and life-threatening illegal drugs such as heroin with so-called safe injection sites. I’ll get to that a little further down the page, but first…

The city’s lack of response to one White Center restaurant owner’s concerns about Murray’s proposed tax on soda pop prompted a protest of sorts.

Ryan Hopkins, owner of Burger Boss Drive-In, is using his roadside sign to let people know how the proposed tax would affect his customers, and how he feels about it. According to KING-TV:

It’s been pretty quiet around Seattle since Mayor Ed Murray proposed a tax on soda and other sugary drinks, but one small business owner is firing back.

Ryan Hopkins owns Burger Boss Drive-in and said he recently learned that the mayor’s idea could force him to raise prices on his large soda to more than $5.

He called City Hall, and when he didn’t get a response, he posted an eye-catching message outside his restaurant to get some attention.


Hopkins says he’s contacted the mayor in hopes of having a conversation but has yet to receive a response.

The initial outline for Murray’s soda tax proposed adding 2 cents per ounce for sugary beverages, though the details will not be disclosed until legislation is presented to the City Council. Why does Murray believe the new social engineering tax is necessary? Why, public health, of course. From The Seattle Times:

Murray has given two reasons for the tax on sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened teas and more: improve health by reducing consumption of sugary drinks, and fund education programs aimed at improving the graduation rate of minority youth.

The mayor even compared sugary drinks to tobacco, saying “sugar is as bad as cigarettes in how we consume it,” on The Seattle Times’ politics podcast.

Let’s assume that Murray is right about the dire risk from drinking soda pop. Wouldn’t a safe soda consumption center be more consistent with the current dogma that pervades Seattle’s public health infrastructure? Those seeking the fizzy giddy rush of a cola would enter a community facility, guzzle their syrupy beverages in a supervised and non-judgmental environment, and then be sent on their merry way.

Of course, this is an absurd idea and not only because if a safe soda site was as “effective” in affecting health outcomes as Vancouver, B.C.’s safe injection site, Seattle would need to brace for a diabetes explosion.

No, the irony here is obvious: If drinking soda is bad enough that the city has to impose negative incentives to curb its use, is heroin – an illegal substance to begin with – less bad? Obviously, it is not less bad; it is much, much worse.

Nevertheless, Seattle’s leaders, elected by Seattle’s citizens, may this year choose to subsidize one activity that 100% of health experts agree poses lethal risk while punishing another behavior that is relatively benign by comparison. I feel safe in assuming that the risk of death by overdose after drinking a 64-ounce cola is as close to zero as actuaries can ever be comfortable stating.

Maybe this ideologically pure but logically backward way of thinking is one reason why Snohomish and Pierce Counties are leading the nation in net migration while Seattle-dominated King County lags.

[Featured image credit: Adobe Stock]

The Perplexing Push for Affordable Housing

Back in 2003, Mr. Words and I decided that we needed more open space than our tiny postage stamp yard afforded, so we started looking for a new home with a bigger yard. At the time, we lived in a virtual hovel in what was probably the worst neighborhood in a very expensive area and we knew we’d have to move farther “out” to find a house on more land within our price range.

Before that, many years ago, I lived in Sumner (now Bonney Lake), Washington, and worked in what is now called the SoDo District of Seattle. At the time, it was a 45 minute drive on good days, but could be much longer depending on traffic. In a car with no air conditioning. On bad traffic days in the summer, it could be brutal. But I did it because Sumner was the place we could afford a cute little house with a nice, big yard and friendly neighbors.

That’s what fiscally responsible people do, right? You live where you can afford the rent or the mortgage payment.

So you  might wonder why people like Seattle Mayor Ed Murray are constantly going on about the need for affordable housing and cutting deals by upzoning, or rezoning, various Seattle neighborhoods for more intensive use. This allows developers to build taller buildings, yielding more units with smaller footprints. The upzoning triggers a Seattle ordinance that requires developers include a minimum number of rent-controlled units in their buildings or pay a fee to help develop them elsewhere.

That might also lead you to wonder why Seattle effectively killed the micro housing industry, which naturally provided affordable housing units without the need for government intervention.

To get back to my question, why doesn’t Ed Murray (or other mayors in large metropolitan areas, for that matter) just let market forces work? Why do he and the city council prefer to force developers to include rent-controlled (i.e., government controlled) units in their buildings?

Let me propose this: Affordable housing is only an issue of government concern when that same government wants or needs “everyone” to live in densely populated urban centers, and rent control only when government pursues perverse policies that unnaturally limit the affordable units that would otherwise be provided through the free market.

If you’re wondering why the government cares where you live, let me direct your attention to ESS HB 2815. This was passed into law in 2008 in response to then-Governor Christine Gregoire’s executive order 07-02. The executive order set some fairly aggressive goals for CO2 reductions which, to an ordinary person, seem rather arbitrary and unattainable given the current state of technology. At least one provision of the law, participation in the Western Climate Initiative, was abandoned when it became clear that the State Legislature was not likely to to enact cap and trade.

One thing that did come to pass was the implementation of a work group to study various policies that could be utilized in pursuit of those carbon reduction goals. In November of 2008, the work group presented a report with their recommendations. Among other things, the report concludes, “However, to significantly reduce VMT and GHG emissions in Washington State, the majority of people in Washington State will need to live and work in places that both support bicycling and walking for shorter trips and provide reliable and convenient public transportation that meets mobility needs for longer trips.”

Right now, just under half the population of Washington State, roughly 48%, live in the three most populous counties, King, Pierce and Snohomish. But not everyone in those counties lives in an urban area with access to public transportation. Consider this system map from King County’s Metro division. Do you see all those areas that have no bus routes? Those are areas where leftists would prefer that people not live.

Below this paragraph is an aerial view of Covington, Washington, an area included on the linked system map. Does this look like an area that can ever “support bicycling and walking for shorter trips and provide reliable and convenient public transportation that meets mobility needs for longer trips?”  No, it doesn’t, because going almost anywhere is going to be more than a short trip. Is it ever going to be close to where the majority of the people living there work? No again.

Remember, the study group concluded that the majority of people in Washington need to live and work in urban areas. That means that to meet their goals, people who currently live in exurban and rural areas are going to have to accept that their lifestyles will change. This, in a nutshell, is why it’s vitally important to Ed Murray that the city include affordable housing.

If our leftist overlords are going to herd us into the cities so that we can live and work there like rats, there needs to be housing available. And too bad for you if you’d rather not live that way. Do you think it’s beyond the reach of government to make car ownership prohibitively expensive for middle class workers? Or tax you out of homes outside the reach of economically feasible public transportation?

Leftists embrace an ideology that’s diametrically opposed to liberty. They want to control where you live, where you work, what kind of vehicle, if any, you can drive, and where you can go. That doesn’t leave much to your discretion, does it, but, I mean, really…is anyplace you can’t reach via public transportation a place that’s worth going? So no big deal, right?

You have to admire leftists; they never do anything that doesn’t move their agenda forward. So the next time you see a leftist say or do something that doesn’t make any logical sense at all, look for the hidden agenda.

[This post first appeared here on the author's personal blog.]

Left-Wing Friendly Fire: Kshama Sawant Slams Obama Admin Study on Economic Damage From Min. Wage Hikes as ‘Right-Wing’

KshamaSawantIn matters of guns and political debate, it’s sound advice to positively identify your target before opening fire.

That wisdom proves doubly true when one is pulling the rhetorical trigger to gun down a bearer of bad news, as Socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant demonstrated at a public forum on the city’s $15 minimum wage proposal held Tuesday.

Sawant knows all too well that the Achilles’ heel of her faux populist campaign to boost the minimum wage is its punishing consequences on low-skilled workers.

So, when faced with a 2008 study of minimum wage hikes in American Samoa that found evidence of those negative impacts, Sawant shot from the hip, pulling the trigger with the speed of Wyatt Earp but the factual accuracy of, well, a typical Seattle liberal.

Sawant elected to dismiss and demonize the study as the work of the “right-wing think tank” the Freedom Foundation, when in fact the study was the work of the Obama Administration’s Government Accountability Office.


Freedom Foundation labor policy analyst Maxford Nelsen wrote today about Sawant’s amusing act of friendly fire: [emphasis added]

Newly-elected Socialist Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant is better known for her incendiary rhetoric than her policy acumen. Her recent comments at a minimum wage forum at Seattle Central Community College exhibit either a lack of knowledge on the issue or a startling deficiency of candor.

One attendee asked Sawant about the economic consequences of increasing the minimum wage. In his comments, the gentleman noted that the U.S. territory of American Samoa had recently experienced significant economic damage after Congress mandated sharp increases in the territory’s minimum wage.

Sawant responded by claiming that the American Samoa study “has been done by some organization called the Freedom Foundation, which is a right-wing think-tank.” Her comments about the study’s validity were unequivocal. …

There’s only one-problem: the report was actually written by the Obama Administration’s Government Accountability Office (GAO), not the “right-wing” Freedom Foundation. While we have cited the study, we are not its authors.

It’s one thing to be disgruntled about the findings of a study that affirms common sense – a drastic raise in the minimum wage will limit opportunities for low-skilled workers and force companies to make workforce cuts to compensate for the increased labor costs, both of which will result in a net job loss overall. For a true believer in socialism, facing third-party affirmation that wage controls do create negative outcomes in a free market economy must be hard to deal with.

But Sawant’s sloppy and knee-jerk handling of evidence she doesn’t like — a full-on ‘metatarsal-jammed-in-your-windpipe’-grade debating disaster — should discredit Sawant as being nothing more than an ideological hack. Should, but probably won’t, as the Seattle media’s love affair with Sawant, pushing her forward as a lightning rod figure who is probably generating clicks and ratings points at a rate that previous City Council mavericks such as Charlie Chong could only have dreamed of.

Watch the entire video of Sawant in all of her ultra-confident wrongness below and then read Nelsen’s entire post on the Freedom Foundation website. It’s important to fully understand the real reason Sawant would like American Samoa’s real-world experience with minimum wage hikes to be a right-wing myth.

Is the Bullitt Center Worth The Carbon Emissions of Issaquah, Sammamish, Snoqualmie and Woodinville Combined?

Sunday was Earth Day and Governor Inslee and Mayor McGinn attended the opening of the Bullitt Center, billed as the “greenest” building on the planet. One of the selling points is that it creates more energy than it uses. But, is it really green?

The Seattle Times notes the building cost $30 million to build and is 50,000 square feet. That amounts to construction costs of $600 a square foot. Last year, Crosscut reported the Bullitt Foundation expected it to cost much less, noting at the time that “The $30 million Center will run about $350 a square foot in construction costs finished – about $50 more per square foot than your typical commercial building.” Even if Crosscut’s previous projection was incorrect, the Bullitt Center is still twice as expensive as a typical commercial building.

Assuming these numbers are correct, the Bullitt Center cost $15 million more than a comparable building. What environmental benefits do they get for all that additional cost?

With the same amount of money, here are a few things they could have done to benefit the environment:

  • Eliminate all carbon emissions from Issaquah, Sammamish, Snoqualmie and Woodinville for an entire year – 1.5 million metric tons of CO2.
  • Fund five years of the Puget Sound Partnership’s #6 priority, matching federal grants from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is zeroed out in the Governor’s budget.
  • Fund three years of the gap between the agency request and the Governor’s budget for the Floodplain Management Local Grant Program. The request is $6 million, but the Governor’s budget funds only $1 million.
  • Fund half of all Pollution Prevention & Cleanup projects the Puget Sound Partnership lists as needing “additional resources” to complete before 2020.

Remember, this is the additional cost for one building. If this building is truly the model some hope, hundreds of millions of dollars could be spent to meet these standards rather than fund other environmental priorities.

Will the Bullitt Center provide more environmental benefit than could be provided by any of the above? That remains to be seen. Even if it falls short of these alternatives, it will likely be claimed that the building was an experiment and it is important to learn from successes as well as mistakes. That is certainly true. Knowledge is pushed forward by people taking risks and experimenting, so this is a positive step in that process.

I am certain the Bullitt Foundation will brag about those things that worked. Let’s hope they are also honest about those things that don’t work. The environmental community has not been forthcoming about admitting its failures and ending projects that don’t work, shifting limited funding and resources to projects that can make a difference. They have, instead, tended to double down on those very projects arguing that failed programs just need a bit more funding.

Until the results are in, however, we can’t call the Bullitt Center the “greenest” or even a “green” building.

[Reprinted with permission from the Washington Policy Center blog]

Gore Praises Jay Inslee’s Book, But Has He Actually Read It?

Former V.P. Al Gore will be in town this Wednesday to support Jay Inslee’s campaign for governor and he has praise for Inslee’s book on the green economy, “Apollo’s Fire.” Gore called the book, “one of the best books out there” on creating a so-called “green” economy.

The question is whether Gore has actually read it.

Published just a few years ago, none of the book’s predictions have come true, but several of the policies advocated there have already failed.

With great bravado, Inslee and his co-author wrote “It would be comforting to avoid the prospect of being proven wrong by the passage of time. But your authors are built of sterner stock.” Indeed, they have already been proven wrong.

The most glaring error is Inslee’s claim that “About 2011…meaningful amounts of cellulosic ethanol are becoming available at service stations across the country.” Not only are “meaningful amounts” not available, cellulosic ethanol is not available at all. As the U.S. Department of Energy notes, “Cellulosic ethanol has not yet been produced commercially.” Ironically, Congress requires oil companies to purchases cellulosic ethanol even though it is not available. As a result, the companies had to purchase waivers for a product that does not exist.

Other predictions fall short as well.

Inslee also predicted that Grays Harbor County would become a model of the green economy, citing Grays Harbor Paper’s production of all-recycled paper in a plant run by renewable energy.

Earlier this year, however, Grays Harbor Paper’s plant was shut down, laying off 240 people.

Inslee also promised that good things were on the horizon for Imperium Renewables, a biofuel company also located in Grays Harbor County. Inslee praised the creation of new regulations to promote biofuel production like “the very promising development of new policies like the California low-carbon fuel standard, which rewards reductions in the amount of CO2 in fuels…”

Ironically, John Plaza, the head of Imperium, last year called California’s low-carbon fuel standard “a complete and utter disaster.” Plaza said the standard relied on “utopian requirements to meet standards that will just kill off first generation fuels in California, and you never get to the second generation.”

Jay also had high praise for the growth of the solar industry and solar energy. With the high profile failure of Solyndra and other solar panel companies, Inslee’s hopes seem pretty misplaced. Inslee, however, cites a company called Nanosolar which he argues produces panels at a cost “so low that their plant could be producing grid-competitive electricity in a matter of a few years.” Far from being “grid-competitive” with the average cost of electricity today, Nanosolar isn’t even competitive within the industry. Earlier this year their production costs were estimated at $1.35 per watt, nearly twice the cost of another thin-film solar panel manufacturer, First Solar, who reports production costs of 75 cents per watt. Even that cost, however, isn’t low enough and First Solar is downgrading its earnings estimates and has postponed production of a new plant.

Finally, Jay claims government support for renewable energy will create new green jobs and even cites a project in Pennsylvania by Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa. In his book, Inslee notes Gamesa “is currently building three more manufacturing facilities on the site of a closed steel mill and is investing in eighteen wind farms around the commonwealth, all of which is forecast to create over a thousand jobs during the next five years.”

Today, however, the reality is quite different, with two of the three facilities being closed and Gamesa is in financial difficulty. Since Inslee published the book, Gamesa’ stock price has fallen from $14.45 to $3.47.

From ethanol, to solar energy to green jobs, the predictions Inslee made in his book have consistently fallen short. Given these failures, it would interesting to ask Mr. Gore if he can name a prediction that Inslee’s book got right.


Todd Myers served in the executive team at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. He has been working in environmental politics for more than a decade.


[photo credit: jdlasica]

Green Jobs Flop Exposes Government’s Brown Thumb History on Growing Economy

The astonishingly poor performance of a “green jobs” program in Seattle should raise serious concerns about other proposals to channel public funds toward risky efforts to further inflate the green economy bubble such as candidate for Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s plan to use public pension funds for investment in high-risk green startups.

Seattlepi.com reported Tuesday that a $20 million federal grant to fund for energy efficiency upgrades – projected to provide insulation upgrades to as many as 2,000 Seattle-area homes and create 2,000 middle-wage jobs – has fallen far short of those lofty expectations.

“[M]ore than a year later, Seattle’s numbers are lackluster,” the article stated. “As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program.”

The comment from the city about coming up 99.3% short of expectations was classic doublespeak.

“Yes, we’re not seeing as many completed retrofits as we wanted to,” said Joshua Curtis, the city’s manager for Community Power Works. “While everyone would like to see more upgrades, I think we’re feeling cautiously optimistic.”

Under the program, property owners apply to receive federally-subsidized loans and incentives for energy efficiency upgrades to homes and certain types of large buildings such as hospitals, municipal buildings and large commercial real estate.

Seattle’s application for the Community Power Works grant was made during Mayor Greg Nickels’ tenure, but by the time the award was made under Mayor Mike McGinn’s administration, the housing market was reeling from the subprime mortgage and banking crisis.

The doubling effect of a housing market clogged with “upside-down” properties paired with high unemployment had already hit home improvement contractors of all sorts – including the green variety – extremely hard. Soft market factors did not appear to entice anyone involved in securing the grant to proceed with caution or perhaps reassess whether the program targets were achievable.

By going full steam ahead the Community Power Works program failed to pass the initial test we should demand that all publicly-funded programs (even those that do not seek to support a profit-making enterprise) respond to an existing public demand. A significant waste of taxpayer monies can be traced to the stop-and-go bureaucratic elephant chain that we know as the federal grant award process failing to recognize changes in market conditions, if it ever was asked to consider those factors at all.

The “underperformance” of this one Seattle green jobs program is unfortunately not unique. We hear anecdotal cases of this sort often. If Jay Inslee were to implement his proposal to use pension funds to give “green” start-ups a push, we can certainly expect to hear many more in the future.

If we think of any investment – public or private – as a walk across a busy freeway to claim a waiting basket of cash, the critical relationship between the investor and risk becomes easier to see. An entrepreneur stepping on that road sees everything from the vantage of a vulnerable potential road pizza, and in doing so makes moment-by-moment decisions before and during the trek across the highway to protect their investment. But unlike the entrepreneur, the government (perhaps because its size, power and indirect responsibility for its actions desensitize it from the healthy fear felt by private sector businesses) lumbers blithe and oblivious, often even failing to notice that the prize is still waiting on the other side.

The difference between how governments and investors deal with risk is at the core of the problems with Community Power Works and it is also the primary reason why Inslee’s plan to divert public pension funds to make investments in high-risk green start-up companies should condemned as flawed from the start.


[photo credit: flickr]






Former Greenpeace Director Takes Harsh View on Environmental Policy Extremism

At an environmental policy conference in Seattle, Wash. Thursday, former Greenpeace director and author of “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible EnvironmentalistDr. Patrick Moore slayed sacred cows of the clean Earth movement one by one, a series of fanatically-held beliefs Moore argues are often unscientific and lead to the creation of poor—even dangerous—public policy.

Moore spoke to a room of hundreds who came down to Seattle’s waterfront for the 9th Annual Washington Policy Center Environmental Policy Conference and Lunch. Soliciting rapt attention and ironic laughter, the cerebral Vancouver, B.C. native and popular environmental speaker rolled casually through a discourse on what he argues is the backward agenda of the environmental extreme.

On issues as wide-ranging as agricultural genetic modification, foresting policy, hydro-electric power, nuclear energy (an issue on which his own opinion has changed since working for Greenpeace) and climate change, Moore described case after case in which science and logic have been ignored and substituted with flimsy rationale to rally an under-informed public to a popular cause.

“You don’t need a Ph.D. in nuclear physics to be against nuclear war, and you don’t need a Ph.D. in marine biology to think the whales should be saved,” Moore said. “But when you start talking about all the chemicals and substances that are used in all of our products and services … you need to know something about chemistry and biology in order to analyze those kinds of issues correctly.”

It’s a point of view that is hard to argue against rationally, but clashes on just that point eventually became the wedge forcing him to exit Greenpeace. When the group began to mobilize to ban chlorine—in all its forms—from worldwide use, the scientist in Moore became aware of irreconcilable differences with the extremists in the movement.

“I said you guys, ‘That’s one of the elements in the periodic table.’ It’s one of the building blocks in the universe and I don’t know if it’s in our jurisdiction to be banning something that important,” Moore said, a chuckle rippling through the audience.

But, in Moore’s view, banning chlorine had implications greater than the cosmic weight of arrogance.

“If you look at the chemicals in your cold and flu medicines and other pharmaceuticals you will find that about 80% of them are based on chlorine chemistry,” Moore explained.

According to Moore, all logic and common sense were unable to overcome zealous activism. With some melancholy, Moore finished the story. “It fell on deaf ears; I had to leave.”

It is the appearance of environmental and ecological extremists as insensitive to real-life consequences in the very populations they seek to persuade—particularly those people living under the world’s most abject conditions—that Moore seems most apt to question, expose and assail.

A prime example of what Moore sees can be found in the unswerving opposition to the use of genetic modification, including for food production, and in the Northwest no conversation on the subject is safe from a segue into salmon. Soon Moore’s talk turned to the silver-scaled, nutrient-rich fish that had also been served up for lunch.

Aquacultural activities such as salmon farming in Alaska and Canada have been targeted by Greenpeace and its surrogates, and Moore sketched a recent encounter in which anti-farming forces seized upon a historically bad run of sockeye on British Columbia’s Fraser River to provoke a Royal Commission to investigate the matter.

According to Moore, the 2009 run of Fraser River sockeye was a dreadfully low 1.4 million and that activists claimed the decline was caused by sea lice festering in salmon farms along the migratory route of the wild salmon. Their conjecture was that the sea lice were killing off the fries headed out to sea before they could return to spawn. However, Moore pointed out that though farms in subsequent years continued to produce supposed sea lice-breeding salmon, the wild runs came back stronger than ever, but the government inquiry is still going strong.

“Meanwhile, last year, 34 million sockeye returned to the Fraser last year… it’s the largest that they’ve ever seen since they’ve been recording it, and yet we’re still having a parliamentary inquiry into the collapse of the Fraser River sockeye,” Moore said.

Though Greenpeace has declared a de facto war against the salmon farming industry, Moore argues that salmon farms are needed particularly because they enable conservation of wild stocks, while also smoothing out the highly seasonal employment cycle to provide more consistent income in coastal communities.

But Moore also sees Greenpeace interfering in a way to prevent struggling countries in the developing world from solving perpetual crises with malnutrition and malnourishment.

In many areas of the world, rice is the only item in many diets, but its naturally-occurring form is devoid of vitamins and minerals. The result is startlingly high levels of blindness and mortality as a result of vitamin A deficiency. The invention in 1998 of a product known as ‘golden rice’ could introduce critical vitamin A into the diets of poor around the world, but as a genetically modified food it was successfully targeted by Greenpeace.

“Greenpeace said right away, ‘We’ll rip it out of the ground if you plant this stuff. There could be unforeseen health and environmental consequences,’” Moore said.

But again, Moore’s focus stayed fixed on what impact all of this policy-wrangling has on the people it is meant to protect.

“[Greenpeace does] know, I’m sure, the World Health Organization estimate of 250,000 to half a million blind kids a year.”

Moore eventually took aim directly at former Vice President Al Gore and others for the ease with which they sidestep questions of how their policy proposals would affect civilization and our future generations.

“Al Gore is actually proposing in print and on stage that we should eliminate fossil fuel use in this world in 2020. Eliminate it. 86% of the world’s energy supply. If that actually happened, say actually in 2020 fossil fuel consumption came to an end and we knew it was going to happen today and we started planning for it now, there wouldn’t be one tree left on this planet within a couple of years from now. Because people would start using them for energy, because what else is there?” Moore speculated then matched the dire predictions of global warming hysterics with one of his own.

“[P]eople would start starving to death… Think about what the repercussions of not having 86% of our energy would be and what would we do instead? Build a bunch of windmills? I don’t think so… I think people would die by the hundreds of millions.”

Still, Moore did voice his support for reducing our overall use of fossil fuels, if not for the purpose of averting a hot mess global climatic disaster than to conserve a resource with uncertain reserves.

“[I] do believe that we are using 300 million years of fossil fuel creation in a few centuries. That is not actually a very good model for sustainability or for conservation,” Moore suggested.

He then completed the thought, adding, “If we’re going to charge our electric car, for example, we don’t want to do it on a coal-fired power plant.”

Much of the science is unsettled on many of the environmental issues, and the impact on our society not fully considered. Voices such as Moore’s—a man who pursues facts and logic as a means to obtaining truth, and one who has thought with the mind of those he now opposes—are an asset in our public debate on environmental policy.


[photo credit: flickr]

CDC Debate Over Infant Meningitis Vaccinations Coming to Seattle-Area Next Week

Next Tuesday, the fractious debate about the inclusion of meningitis vaccinations in the recommended set of infant shots will land north of Seattle in Shoreline, Wash.The Centers for Disease Control is on a four-city tour to field public comment from doctors, healthcare workers and parents and the Shoreline meeting July 12th is the next stop after the initial meeting last month in Concord, N.H.

The CDC is considering a policy that would add three or four doses of meningococcal vaccine to the series recommended for infants. Those doses would be in addition to those already recommended for older children and young adults. The purpose of meeting such as the one next week in Seattle is to solicit feedback from all of the stakeholders affected. One group raising intense opposition is formed by parents of autistic children, some of whom believe early vaccinations may be a cause of the condition.

Taking place as it will where the ideals of progressive politics, alternative medicine and childless living cross-pollinate, the Seattle meeting could be a flashpoint in the vaccination debate, fed by well-organized opposition from anti-vaccination activists.

Though the preponderance of medical opinion and research has long concluded that there is no link between vaccination and autism, it is certainly a parent’s prerogative to retain skepticism as a bulwark against making misinformed choices. That skepticism has a strong voice in the form of Generation Rescue, the group rallied to action by via spokeswoman and former Playboy model Jenny McCarthy, also the mother of an autistic son.

But while McCarthy’s well-intentioned army of anti-vaxers peacefully push against the effort to put the meningitis vaccine into the standard toolkit for fighting lethal and infectious disease, children are risk from the illness. Cherylyn Harley LeBon writes at Red County:

Annually, there are more deaths from meningitis than there are from mumps, rubella and rotavirus disease-other infections for which infants currently receive vaccinations.  The disease can strike healthy babies suddenly, without warning, and has the potential to kill in as fast as four hours.  Of those who survive, one is six will suffer limb amputation, paralysis, seizure, stroke, hearing loss, blindness, organ damage, severe scarring or brain damage.

Harley LeBon–mother, attorney and former senior counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee–is circulating  a petition to tell the CDC to move forward with a policy to recommend the vaccine. Her desire is that the CDC puts science ahead of populist outrage when formulating its public health policy. She writes:

[L]et’s pray that the CDC, as it considers whether to recommend meningitis vaccines for infants, makes its decisions based on sound science, not the erroneous claims of the anti-vaccine movement.


[photo credit: flickr]

Internal Democratic Politics May Complicate Redistricting in Washington

Despite all attempts to depoliticize Washington State’s redistricting process by taking it out of the hands of the legislature, it appears that political infighting may again be getting in the way of a speedy drawing of new voting lines.

Only this time it is not the usual red and blue shirts holding up progress, but an internal rift among Democrats over whether a new majority-minority congressional district in South Seattle should take priority over the creation of a cozy district dominated by state workers in Thurston County.

Win/Win, OneAmerica and allies in the progressive wing of Washington’s Democratic Party are at loggerheads with an organized faction of their party’s establishment who view situating a majority-minority district in the South Seattle as an impediment to creating a new district around the state capital of Olympia, one that currently exists only on the drafting tables of Democrat strategists as the means for getting Denny Heck elected to Congress.

As the Heck coalition works through one Democrat-appointed commissioner and the South Seattle 10th effort works through another, they each run the risk of losing sight of the purpose of the hearings.

In between the lines, the implication of voting rights activists that minority communities in Washington’s Democrat-controlled environment remain dissatisfied with their representation and unwelcome in the political process may be cause for soul-searching within the party of progressives.

In a real sense, the cold war developing between establishment Democrats and progressives over the preferred location of the 10th District has the danger of dragging the Redistricting Commission down into a political quagmire. Failing to meet a self-imposed November 1st deadline to present a map to the public has begun to look more and more likely.

The proposal to situate the 10th District in South Seattle has been spearheaded by the national immigrant activist group OneAmerica, working in close coordination with the Win/Win Network, a Washington state collaborative of progressive interest groups. At the Redistricting Commission’s hearing in Auburn on May 23rd, OneAmerica submitted their proposed map for a new 10th Congressional District to be considered, a swatch of territory that would take large chunks out of the 7th and 9th Congressional Districts, and would nip at the edges of the present-day 8th.

According to Win/Win executive director George Cheung, speaking to the Commission at a hearing in Auburn on May 23rd, the 10th District envisioned by his group would have “a majority of people of color.” Cheung also stated that “creating a majority people of color district is critical for encouraging people of color to participate in the democratic process.”

State policy director of OneAmerica Toby Guevin has appeared at hearings on both sides of the Cascades. Guevin trekked to Yakima for the June 8th hearing to tell commissioners: “We want to push for the new 10th Congressional District in South King County.”

One day earlier, another OneAmerica volunteer had stepped to the microphone in Pasco to deliver the same message, as well as adding his voice to the ACLU and other voting rights groups calling for the creation of a majority-minority legislative district from dominantly Hispanic neighborhoods in Yakima.

The case for a Hispanic voting district in Yakima was further underscored in remarks to the Commission from Seattle University professor and voting right advocate Joaquin Avila.

“From [the Hispanic] community perspective, what is right is that the legislature should be reflective of the people that it represents, the legislature must be diverse,” Avila said.

Guevin, Cheung, and Avila are speaking for different communities but expressing the same concern. In the Democrat-controlled political environment of Washington, minorities do not receive adequate representation and are not encouraged to participate in the political process.

Because the desired location for the South Seattle 10th District is found squarely inside of Democratic territory that is as solid as it gets in politics, it begs the question: If Congressmen Jim McDermott and Adam Smith are not representing the minorities in their districts, might it be a failure of the policies, not the politicians?

Another frustrating feature of the 10th District debate among Democrats may be what a South Seattle congressional district does in terms of redistricting math. The 2010 Census showed clearly that the Seattle metropolitan area is shrinking and because districts are created based on population – not area – each of Seattle’s congressional districts technically should be expanding in size. But wedging a new district into the area compounds the problem, creating a spill-over effect around the state and creating potential advantages for Republicans.

Using an online tool loaded with the most up-to-date census and voting data, NW Daily Marker took a stab at performing a redistricting of Washington State. We used the OneAmerica 10th District map as our base, and attempted to follow the laws and guidelines imposed on the Redistricting Commission – in brief, a) districts should be contiguous, b) they  should follow municipal and county boundaries as much as is practicable, and c) they must distribute the state’s population equally among all counties, with a small tolerance.

Our wholly unscientific experiment in redistricting created an interesting result when compared with the current district map (image to right, click to view larger).

There are certainly different maps that could emerge from this quasi-arcane process. But no map can disregard facts about where Washington’s population is growing. The Commission was reminded about these stark realities by a citizen at the Pasco hearing.

“Eastern WA’s population is going to continue to grow… the Tri-cities area is one of the fastest growing areas in the nation right now per capita,” Jon Wyss, apple grower, told the Commission. “Seattle[’s population] — if you look at birth rates and trends – is on the decline.”

“It’s either lose a district now or two later,” Wyss warned.

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