Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Meditation XVII
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,

a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less,

as well as if a promontory were,

as well as if a manor of thy friend's

or of thine own were;

any man's death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind,

and therefore never send to know

for whom the bells tolls;

it tolls for thee.

John Donne


Friday, May 25, 2012



Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis
Mason County Progressive

Monday, May 21, 2012

6:00 PM: City of Shelton Commission Meeting

It was a race to the finish line as the City meeting went gavel to gavel in just under nine minutes. Mayor Cronce was on vacation, leaving Finance Commissioner, Mike Olsen to ride herd. It was a good opportunity to do away with unnecessary formalities, as there was nothing on the agenda that needed public scrutiny. Since I was the only “public” in attendance, I was tempted to take to the podium, just to see if anyone would pull out a stopwatch. I didn’t, and made it home for supper while the steam was still coming off the pasta.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

6:00 PM: Regular session of Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)

Item 8.1: Approval of Lodging Tax Fund application for the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Mason County in the amount of $18,500 for a project to connect the community with the Ridge Motorsports racetrack to promote hotel stays, increase the number of people frequenting local restaurants and retail services.

Sounds good, right? “…connect the community with the Ridge Motorsports Park...” But all the local businesses are already listed in the Shelton Guide that can be accessed from the Ridge Motorsport Park website. It seems unlikely that people smart enough to use the internet to find their way to a rural racetrack can’t find a local place to eat or sleep.

Never one to let a dead cat completely out of the box, what EDC Director Matt Matayoshi is really proposing is a new website and an on site racetrack kiosk, complete with concierge. All this will be funded with lodging tax money, as recommended by the LTAC Committee and approved by the two Commissioners in attendance, Steve Bloomfield and Tim Sheldon.

And now an unsolicited word about, well, everything:

Our home is located 4.87 aerial miles south of the racetrack, yet we still hear the cars and bikes navigating the course. I pity those homeowners who live closer to the track, like in the Dayton Trails area, especially when the drag-strip opens.

When it comes to bad ideas no one gets it better than our Economic Development Council. This may be due, in part, to the fact that its director does not live in our County, or that the EDC itself has become little more than the economic arm of local officials.

Over the past two years, the EDC has stood silently by while good proposals, like the Shelton Hills Development went begging for help, yet enthusiastically supported siting an air polluting biomass plant and a noise polluting racetrack in the community.

As a result of similar exploitations, our environment -- water quality, natural forests, clean air, even the peace and quiet of rural life -- have been methodically degraded.

All of which brings me to the current state of County government, which has prospered while the community as a whole continues to struggle.

At the end of fiscal year 2008, County revenues were at 25.9M, with expenditures at 27.2M. Cash and investments on hand were 2.2M. By 2011, revenues were reported at 24.7M and expenditures at 23.3M, effectively reversing a 1.3M deficit in 2008 to a 1.4M gain in 2011. Cash and investment in 2011 also continued to grow, and is reported at 7M.

Again, sounds like a good thing, right? But what does it really mean? It means that while things got worse for you and me – property values went down while taxes went up – County finances improved. (Note: in 2011 over 70M dollars of the County’s budget came from property and real estate excise taxes.)

So why is it you can’t even walk into the County Administration Building on a Friday and speak to someone? The reception desk is closed and the lights are off. What does it say about County officials who continue to combine positions and departments and cut services, all the while sitting on a 7M surplus?

And while local government coffers grow, small businesses continue to suffer and big timber flourishes, supported by our tax dollars (73% of county land is designated as “natural resource lands”). And what of our shellfish industry? Well, they’re reporting a 90% mortality rate of seedlings, due to poor water quality conditions.

Now, it might sound like I’m all over the map here, but you need to connect the dots, some of which are not readily apparent. To simplify, follow the money: if our local government is doing well but its people and small businesses are not, that should be a clue.

If we continue down the current path, we can expect further environmental degradation, more concentration of political power and money, and continued economic vulnerability.

All of which leads me to the following question: If our leaders are not working for you and me, who are they working for?

Have a safe Memorial Weekend.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Impregnator Complicity Law Proposed

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Charles L. Winne
Mason County Progressive


As usual, the closer to election time, the hotter the debate on women's rights. One is led to believe that the right to decide was given to males alone. It brings to mind part of a verse from an old Sunday school song, "Because the Bible tells me so..."

I am not a reader of the Bible on a regular basis, and certainly am not a learned scholar. From the internet I brought up six full pages of small print, single spaced pages of research done by Resources for Clergy on biblical references to abortion. The books Numbers and Hosea provide some gruesome reading describing Moses being directed to oversee the revenge on an entire people, including dashing small children and ripping open pregnant women. The latter could be a cruel form of abortion, right? Oh yes, and the virgins were to be spared for the pleasure of the soldiers. I'm not making this up, read it for yourselves.

I also dug up several other articles concerning women's rights from the Seattle Times, The Progressive Populist, Progressive Magazine, and then there was the news article from the Associated Press telling about a prominent Idaho lawyer who is also licensed to practice medicine as an MD. He decided to defend a young mother of three, living on less than $250 a month, who faces 5 years in prison for aborting with an abortion inducing drug purchased on line. It seems her real crime was breaking an Idaho law that states a professional clinician must perform the abortion

Now before referring back to the aforementioned suggested new "Impregnator Complicity" law, I should remark on what one of our most listened to talk show hosts spouted out over the air-ways. His references to sluts and prostitutes needs this point to be made: in all history of mankind, there has never been one slut or one prostitute that wasn't made so by an impregnator (man if you wish).

The worldwide Guttmacher Institute is an organization that researches sexual and reproductive health. They state that during the year 2008 (the most recent year data is available), there were 3322 abortions per day, so it is a concern. It may be reasonable to assume many of these abortions were arranged by the aforementioned "strayed" women.

You can't have a pregnancy without the input from a male somewhere along in the process which, I believe, gives reason to create a law that places guilt on the man as well, instead of heaping it solely on the woman.

As mentioned before, the public's morals will never be legislated, but a law such as this could bring a sharp reduction in abortions. If abortion is, indeed, a criminal act then the impregnator must be equally charged as is the woman.

The basic purpose for the law would be to enforce the following:

Any man found to be the impregnator in a relationship that results in an abortion procedure must be present at all the clinical procedures now proposed for the woman.

He must be equally responsible for all costs for those procedures, and depending on certain circumstances to be determined by the authors of such bill, may be subject to fines and/or prison time.
The Idaho mother of three faces a prison term for not paying a professional clinician to "kill" her unborn child, but those we send to Washington, DC to govern this "Great Nation Under God" can sacrifice thousands upon thousands of mature fetuses anywhere in the world, but they will be praised, glorified and rewarded with full life-time medical and financial support, and protection from the possibility of personal harm for the rest of their life.

'Tis a puzzlement...

This statement also appeared in the 5/10/12 issue of the Shelton-Mason County Journal as a letter to the Editor.

Link to previous related post:


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Brave Judge Attempts to Save Democracy

Excerpt from:
The NDAA's Section 1021 Coup d'Etat Foiled
By Naomi Wolf

One brave judge is all that lay between us and a law that would have given the president power to detain US citizens indefinitely

On Wednesday 16 May, at about 4pm, the republic of the United States of America was drawn back – at least for now – from a precipice that would have plunged our country into moral darkness. One brave and principled newly-appointed judge ruled against a law that would have brought the legal powers of the authorities of Guantánamo home to our own courthouses, streets and backyards.

US District Judge Katherine Forrest, in New York City's eastern district, found that section 1021 – the key section of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – which had been rushed into law amid secrecy and in haste on New Year's Eve 2011, bestowing on any president the power to detain US citizens indefinitely, without charge or trial, "facially unconstitutional". Forrest concluded that the law does indeed have, as the journalists and peaceful activists who brought the lawsuit against the president and Leon Panetta have argued, a "chilling impact on first amendment rights". Her ruling enjoins that section of the NDAA from becoming law.

In her written opinion, the judge noted that she had been persuaded by what the lead plaintiffs – who include Pulitzer prize-winner Chris Hedges of the Nation Institute, editor Jennifer Bolen of RevolutionTruth, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, co-founder of Occupy London Kai Wargalla, Days of Rage editor Alexa O'Brien, and the Icelandic parliamentarian and WikiLeaks activist Birgitta Jónsdóttir – had argued. In their testimonies (in court and by affidavit), these plaintiffs compiled a persuasive case that they had "standing" to sue because it was reasonable for them to worry that they could conceivably could be detained indefinitely under the section 1021 law because their work requires them to have contact with sources the US government might assert were "terrorists" or "associated forces" of al-Qaida.

The key claim made by the plaintiffs – of which Judge Forrest was persuaded – was that the language in section 1021 is so vague that it could sweep up anyone. The law fails to define or specify what "associated forces" or the concept of "substantial support" actually mean.

I attended the hearing as a journalist supporting the plaintiffs, providing by affidavit examples from my own experience of how the NDAA's section 1021 had already affected my reporting. (Princeton professor Dr Cornel West and I are also standing by to become plaintiffs, if called upon, in the next round.)

I was also there to read in court Birgitta Jónsdóttir's disturbing testimony: she had been advised by her own government not to attend the hearing in person because the US government would not give Iceland a written assurance that it would not detain her under the NDAA if she did so. US federal agents have already confiscated her Twitter account and personal bank records.

The back-and-forth between Judge Forrest and Obama administration's lawyers that goes to the heart of the judge's ruling was stunning to behold. Forrest asked repeatedly, in a variety of different ways, for the government attorneys to give her some, any assurance that the wording of section 1021 could not be used to arrest and detain people like the plaintiffs. Finally she asked for assurance that it could not be used to sweep up a hypothetical peaceful best-selling nonfiction writer who had written a hypothetical book criticizing US foreign policy, along lines theater the Taliban might agree with.

Again and again (the transcript from my notes is here), the two lawyers said directly that they could not, or would not, give her those assurances. In other words, this back-and-forth confirmed what people such as Glenn Greenwald, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the ACLU and others have been shouting about since January: the section was knowingly written in order to give the president these powers; and his lawyers were sent into that courtroom precisely to defeat the effort to challenge them. Forrest concluded:

"At the hearing on this motion, the government was unwilling or unable to state that these plaintiffs would not be subject to indefinite detention under [section] 1021. Plaintiffs are therefore at risk of detention, of losing their liberty, potentially for many years."
The government's assertions become even more hellishly farcical. Forrest further observed:
"An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so. In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more."
This upholding of the US constitution and the rule of law is a triumphant moment, but a fragile one: Judge Forrest has asked Congress to clarify the language protecting America's right to trial and the first amendment's protections on speech and assembly. And now, Thursday (5/17/12), Representatives Adam Smith (Democrat, Washington) and Justin Amash (Republican, Michigan) have presented an amendment to Congress an amendment that does just that. Those who vote against it therefore will be voting clearly, and without any ambiguity, for stripping Americans of their constitutional rights and reducing them to the same potential status as "enemy combatants" and Guantánamo prisoners. The House thus votes for or against the power handed to the executive by the NDAA to hold any of us, anywhere, forever, for no reason. There can be no hiding from this; the lawyers defending the administration's position made that perfectly clear.

What truly disturbed me in that courtroom was the terrible fragility of all the checks to power that are supposed to be in place to protect us against such assaults on democracy. Many senators, including my own, Chuck Schumer, had sent out letters to their own worried constituents flat-out denying our fears about what section 1021 does. No major news media organisations attended the original hearing (except Paul Harris of the Guardian and Observer). The trial and the NDAA itself have been so inadequately reported by mainstream outlets that I keep running into senior editors and lawyers who have never heard of it. I recently cornered one southern Democratic senator at an event and asked him why he had voted to pass the NDAA. He asked what my objection was.

"It allows the president to detain Americans without charge or trial," I pointed out. His aides had assured him this was not the case, he replied. "Have you read the bill?" I asked. "It's 1,600 pages," he replied.

This darkness is so dangerous not least because a new Department of Homeland Security document trove, released in response to a FOIA request filed by Michael Moore and the National Lawyers' Guild, proves in exhaustive detail that the DHS and its "fusion centers" coordinated with local police (as I argued here, to initial disbelief), the violent crackdown against Occupy last fall. You have to put these pieces of evidence together: the government cannot be trusted with powers to detain indefinitely any US citizen – even though Obama promised he would not misuse these powers – because the United States government is already coordinating a surveillance and policing war against its citizens, designed to suppress their peaceful assembly and criticism of its corporate allies.

The lawyers for the government have endless funds (our tax dollars); the plaintiffs' lawyers all worked pro bono; the plaintiffs themselves paid their own way to make their case. Yet, by these slender means, what was essentially a coup in two paragraphs has been blocked from advancing under cover of ignorance and silence to becoming the supreme law of the land. But should our democracy hang by such a tenuous thread that it relies on the sheer luck that this case was heard by a courageous judge with a settled belief in the constitution of the United States?

Link to complete article:

Thursday, May 17, 2012



Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis Mason County Progressive

As promised, there was no meeting of County Commissioners this week, and the Port meeting went by so fast I barely had time to finish my Slurpee. No matter, the big news of the day was Senator Tim Sheldon registering as a candidate to serve yet another term as County Commissioner, District 2.

What does it say about a professional politician who keeps sliding back down the political ladder just to make sure no new ideas threaten the status quo?

By occupying two key political positions, Tim Sheldon effectively reduces by one third, the opportunity of new people to influence public policy decisions. With a legacy of special interests, Sheldon has done little to ease the plight of working men and women, preferring to concentrate on an agenda of special interest accommodations.

As a brief refresher of events:
  • Senator Sheldon cosigned Senate Bill, ESB 5575, allowing biomass plants to use toxic black liqueur from pulp mills as fuel.
  • And it was Senator Sheldon who turned on his declared party, just when they needed him most, and helped transfer power over to the austerity crowd.
  • And, lest we forget, Commissioner Sheldon turned his back on over 3000 citizens wanting a voice in the ADAGE issue.
  • And then there’s the egregiously wasteful, poorly thought out Belfair Wastewater project he promoted; and amendments to the County Comprehensive Plan that further advantage big timber.
  • And Sheldon, himself, reminds us that bringing Wal-Mart to our community was a good idea, despite the fact that so many small businesses have had to shutter their doors and downtown Shelton turned into a virtual after hours ghost town.
  • And when finally it came time to do something good and selfless for our community, it was Tim Sheldon who cast the lone "NO" vote to fund mental health and substance abuse alternatives to incarceration.

All of which leads me to the question of the day:
When is enough, enough?

When the future looks the same as the past.

And now onto some actual meetings --

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

11:30 AM: League of Women Voters (LWV); Olympic College Library

On the agenda were several presentations on the privatization of public services, such as solid waste services, water, prisons, education, ports, social services, parks and libraries.

I’m not a big fan of this topic for the simple reason that success in the private sector is measured in profits, while success in government is defined by a consistently high level of services provided, and rarely do the twain meet. But politics is all about forcing round pegs into square holes, and the current push is to privatize those public services that turn a profit and socialize the losses of those that require high levels of maintenance.

Counter intuitive to the political mind, my mind told me that private companies are good at making hamburgers (as long as there’s oversight) but lousy at providing public services.

6:00 PM: A meeting with the provocative title, “It’s Your Community”;
County Fairgrounds

Heidi McCutcheon, Executive Director of the Shelton Chamber of Commerce, followed the tried and true practices of the Pomegranate Center when she called the Community Project meeting to order. The objective was to identify the most urgent community needs (and not kill each other in the process), and write them on an easel mounted pad at the front of the room. Heidi did an admirable job of keeping order and getting the group to focus.

At first, there was the usual reflexive grumbling that comes from caging such a diverse group. But as the meeting progressed, all the right things were said, and I suspect the next meeting will be even more productive.

I left with a strange tingling in my chest, which tempted me to see if I could still lift my arms over my head. But what I was feeling was a small flicker of hope that two years of resistance to change by local officials had failed to extinguish. Hope for opportunities for our young people. Hope for the future of our environment. And hope for ourselves. It’s been a long time since I had that feeling. I could get used to it.



Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Excerpts from:
Colonized by Corporations
By Chris Hedges

In Robert E. Gamer’s book “The Developing Nations” is a chapter called “Why Men Do Not Revolt.” In it Gamer notes that although the oppressed often do revolt, the object of their hostility is misplaced. They vent their fury on a political puppet, someone who masks colonial power, a despised racial or ethnic group or an apostate within their own political class.

The useless battles serve as an effective mask for what Gamer calls the “patron-client” networks that are responsible for the continuity of colonial oppression. The squabbles among the oppressed, the political campaigns between candidates who each are servants of colonial power, Gamer writes, absolve the actual centers of power from addressing the conditions that cause the frustrations of the people. Inequities, political disenfranchisement and injustices are never seriously addressed. “The government merely does the minimum necessary to prevent those few who are prone toward political action from organizing into politically effective groups,” he writes.

Gamer and many others who study the nature of colonial rule offer the best insights into the functioning of our corporate state. We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense.

The mechanisms of control are familiar to those whom the Martinique-born French psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth,” including African-Americans. The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent. And the ensuing fear and instability—keenly felt this past weekend by the more than 200,000 Americans who lost their unemployment benefits—ensure political passivity by diverting all personal energy toward survival. It is an old, old game.

A change of power does not require the election of a Mitt Romney or a Barack Obama or a Democratic majority in Congress, or an attempt to reform the system or electing progressive candidates, but rather a destruction of corporate domination of the political process—Gamer’s “patron-client” networks. It requires the establishment of new mechanisms of governance to distribute wealth and protect resources, to curtail corporate power, to cope with the destruction of the ecosystem and to foster the common good. But we must first recognize ourselves as colonial subjects. We must accept that we have no effective voice in the way we are governed. We must accept the hollowness of electoral politics, the futility of our political theater, and we must destroy the corporate structure itself.

The danger the corporate state faces does not come from the poor. The poor, those Karl Marx dismissed as the Lumpenproletariat, do not mount revolutions, although they join them and often become cannon fodder. The real danger to the elite comes from déclassé intellectuals, those educated middle-class men and women who are barred by a calcified system from advancement. Artists without studios or theaters, teachers without classrooms, lawyers without clients, doctors without patients and journalists without newspapers descend economically. They become, as they mingle with the underclass, a bridge between the worlds of the elite and the oppressed. And they are the dynamite that triggers revolt.

This is why the Occupy movement frightens the corporate elite. What fosters revolution is not misery, but the gap between what people expect from their lives and what is offered. This is especially acute among the educated and the talented. They feel, with much justification, that they have been denied what they deserve. They set out to rectify this injustice. And the longer the injustice festers, the more radical they become.

The response of a dying regime—and our corporate regime is dying—is to employ increasing levels of force, and to foolishly refuse to ameliorate the chronic joblessness, foreclosures, mounting student debt, lack of medical insurance and exclusion from the centers of power. Revolutions are fueled by an inept and distant ruling class that perpetuates political paralysis. This ensures its eventual death.

In every revolutionary movement I covered in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, the leadership emerged from déclassé intellectuals. The leaders were usually young or middle-aged, educated and always unable to meet their professional and personal aspirations. They were never part of the power elite, although often their parents had been. They were conversant in the language of power as well as the language of oppression. It is the presence of large numbers of déclassé intellectuals that makes the uprisings in Spain, Egypt, Greece and finally the United States threatening to the overlords at Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil and JPMorgan Chase. They must face down opponents who understand, in a way the uneducated often do not, the lies disseminated on behalf of corporations by the public relations industry. These déclassé intellectuals, because they are conversant in economics and political theory, grasp that those who hold power, real power, are not the elected mandarins in Washington but the criminal class on Wall Street. . .

Those within a demoralized ruling elite, like characters in a Chekhov play, increasingly understand that the system that enriches and empowers them is corrupt and decayed. They become cynical. They do not govern effectively. They retreat into hedonism. They no longer believe their own rhetoric. They devote their energies to stealing and exploiting as much, as fast, as possible. They pillage their own institutions, as we have seen with the newly disclosed loss of $2 billion within JPMorgan Chase, the meltdown of Chesapeake Energy Corp. or the collapse of Enron and Lehman Brothers. The elites become cannibals. They consume each other. This is what happens in the latter stages of all dying regimes. Louis XIV pillaged his own nobility by revoking patents of nobility and reselling them. It is what most corporations do to their shareholders. A dying ruling class, in short, no longer acts to preserve its own longevity. It becomes fashionable, even in the rarefied circles of the elite, to ridicule and laugh at the political puppets that are the public face of the corporate state. . .

Revolutions take time. The American Revolution began with protests against the Stamp Act of 1765 but did not erupt until a decade later. The 1917 revolution in Russia started with a dress rehearsal in 1905. The most effective revolutions, including the Russian Revolution, have been largely nonviolent. There are always violent radicals who carry out bombings and assassinations, but they hinder, especially in the early stages, more than help revolutions. The anarchist Peter Kropotkin during the Russian Revolution condemned the radical terrorists, asserting that they only demoralized and frightened away the movement’s followers and discredited authentic anarchism. . .

The power of the Occupy movement is that it expresses the widespread disgust with the elites, and the deep desire for justice and fairness that is essential to all successful revolutionary movements. The Occupy movement will change and mutate, but it will not go away. It may appear to make little headway, but this is less because of the movement’s ineffectiveness and more because decayed systems of power have an amazing ability to perpetuate themselves through habit, routine and inertia. The press and organs of communication, along with the anointed experts and academics, tied by money and ideology to the elites, are useless in dissecting what is happening within these movements. They view reality through the lens of their corporate sponsors. They have no idea what is happening.

Dying regimes are chipped away slowly and imperceptibly. The assumptions and daily formalities of the old system are difficult for citizens to abandon, even when the old system is increasingly hostile to their dignity, well-being and survival. Supplanting an old faith with a new one is the silent, unseen battle of all revolutionary movements. And during the slow transition it is almost impossible to measure progress. . .

The end of these regimes comes when old beliefs die and the organs of security, especially the police and military, abandon the elites and join the revolutionaries. This is true in every successful revolution. It does not matter how sophisticated the repressive apparatus. Once those who handle the tools of repression become demoralized, the security and surveillance state is impotent. Regimes, when they die, are like a great ocean liner sinking in minutes on the horizon. And no one, including the purported leaders of the opposition, can predict the moment of death. Revolutions have an innate, mysterious life force that defies comprehension. They are living entities. . .

Link to complete article:

Thursday, May 10, 2012



Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis
Mason County Progressive

There were no head-shaking action items and only one Public Hearing on the agenda at the Tuesday, May 8, Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, so this report will be short and sweet (okay, maybe just short).

9.1 Public Hearing to consider adoption of amendments to Title 17 of the Mason County Code pertaining to the zoning of Collective Gardens (medical cannabis) or extend the current Moratorium for six months and to expire on November 16, 2012.

RCW 69.51A Medical Cannabis allows, in part, qualifying patients to create and participate in “collective gardens” (RCW 69.51A.085). Collective gardens “means qualifying patients sharing responsibility for acquiring and supplying the resources required to produce and process cannabis for medical use such as, for example, a location for a collective garden; equipment, supplies, and labor necessary to plant, grow, and harvest cannabis; cannabis plants, seeds, and cuttings; and equipment, supplies, and labor necessary for proper construction, plumbing, wiring, and ventilation of a garden of cannabis plants. Amendments to RCW 69.51A also provide that Counties can adopt and enforce zoning regulations pertaining to the dispensing of cannabis in their jurisdiction (RCW 69.51A.140).

Mason County is currently under a Moratorium to expire on May 16, 2012 while zoning regulations are considered. Amendments to Title 17 regulating the location of collective gardens are now ready for consideration by the Board of County Commissioners. The Moratorium will expire on May 16, 2012 unless extended by the Board.”

Here’s what happened:

In what is best described as a whimsical approach to the conundrum of medical marijuana, Commissioners sought to tie the dispensing of pot (illegal at both Federal and State levels) to the collective gardening operation (Illegal at the Federal level, but legal in WA State, and about 23 other States). Unfortunately for them, that flight of fantasy never got off the ground.

Hail Mary passes aside, the County is stuck between a rock and a hard place: if they adopt regulations aimed at collective gardens it looks like they’re condoning, if not encouraging, the use of a controlled substance. But if they fail to enact regulations, they lose regulatory authority over collective gardens.

Okay, it’s a tough call, but making no call is like hearing a burglar rummaging around your home and pulling the covers over your head. In the end, the BOCC did what it does best: nothing. And by nothing, I mean they extended the moratorium on collective gardens another six months, now to expire Nov, 16th. As is often the case, Mason County resists the inevitable till such time as the path is made clear by the wheel ruts of others.

There was no Port of Shelton Commission Meeting scheduled, so there was no need to visit the Martini Bar (Drat!). The next Port meeting is May 15th. Next BOCC meeting is May 22 (the May 15th meeting was cancelled because all of our Commissioners have something more important to do).


Monday, May 7, 2012


Submitted to Shelton Blog by Jake Rufer Mason County Progressive

Excerpts from:
Conservatives Hijack Washington State’s Budget

State Senators Jim Kastama, Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon joined with conservatives (last March) to pass a budget that cuts a dangerous amount of funding for public education, healthcare, and economic security.

Why would these Democrats join with conservatives to pass a budget that cuts funding for the most vulnerable people they represent? It could be connected to the Washington Policy Center (WPC) and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) ties with at least one of the senators.

Sen. Tim Sheldon received the Fifth Annual Stanley O. McNaughton Champion of Freedom Award from the WPC for his commitment to free market principles. The fact that a Democratic member of the state legislature received an award from a right-wing funded organization is a clear indicator that the senator had the interests of the interest group in mind rather than his constituents when he cast his vote.

Since becoming a member of ALEC in 2011, the Washington Policy Center’s agenda has shifted away from the people of Washington. They now act as ALEC’s mouthpiece, promoting the conservative rhetoric that is being forced around the country. Local citizens and issues lose their representation in the state legislature when the WPC gets involved because they focus on their conservative agenda rather than the concerns of the people of Washington.

Link to complete article:

Link to previous related post:

Thursday, May 3, 2012



Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis Mason County Progressive

Well, here we are; another week gone by and I’m still not living in Paris. But I did attend the BOCC briefing, the regular Tuesday meeting, the Port of Shelton meeting, and something in Olympia sponsored by the DNR, billed as the “Marbled Murrelet Conservation Strategy”. Sadly, after sitting through three presentations, two of which were aimed at saving our forests for timber revenues, I left with the feeling that the little bird had about as much of a future as a field mouse in a Python tank.

But first things first --

Monday, April 30, 2012

9:00 AM: Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Briefing

Apparently, no one told Loretta Swanson, Storm Water Program Manager for Mason County Health, that it was unwise to include a lot of technical data in her progress report: it is not often you get to see three County Commissioners rear up and paw the air, but that’s exactly what happened at Monday’s briefing. Everything in the report went under the bus: the timing, statistical information, even the format. After the briefing, Ms. Swanson was seen limping back to her office, a little bit older and a lot wiser for having tried to treat the public as adults.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

9:00 AM: Regular session of Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)

Hooray, hooray, the first of May, all the Commissioners were present today.

Public Comment Period: Katherine Price, advocate for human people, rose to enlighten the Commission of the difference between a living person and a corporation. Expressions ranged from confused to a little bit sleepy. But then such shocking information needs time to percolate.

There were no “big deals” on the 11 item action agenda, and no public hearings scheduled -- I could almost feel the warmth of sun on my face. Then up popped the dreaded “Other Business" category, Item No. 10, and all hope of an early release vanished.

Item 10.1: Selection of finalists for the following positions -- Public Defense Administrator, Utilities & Waste Management Director, and Public Works Director. Now you could almost hear the ponies banging against the starting gates.

First up to be filled was the position of Director, Public Works Administrator. Thirteen applicants quickly became six when seven of them showed up without shoes. That number was pared to three through a complicated process known as "rock, paper, scissors". The final selection had something to do with a live chicken and a ball of twine. In the end, two Commissioners finally agreed on a Mason County resident known as Susan somebody (I didn’t get her last name. Also, the process by which the applicants were eliminated was not made public, so I am left to my own imagination and an entire page to fill).

Two more positions, Director of Utilities and Waste Management, and Director of Public Works were also up for grabs. Before any of that could happen, the Commission decided to merge the two positions, leaving some to wonder if Mason County hadn’t wasted about 3M dollars in salaries and benefits over the past 30 years. And so it came to be that interim Director Brian Matthews became the new permanent Director of Public Works, Utilities and Waste Management. (Note: as of the date of this post, only the offer of employment had been extended; the terms have yet to be negotiated.)

2:00 PM: Port of Shelton Commission Meeting

A few weeks ago the Port asked the public to weigh in on their updated forestry policy. They received only two, but quite similar, suggestions from two very different sources; both advised against harvesting timber on Port property until such time as the site was needed to accommodate a tenant. As expected, this recommendation was ignored … I think.

Here’s an ever so slightly embellished sampling of a statement by Director John Dobson that he made at this week’s meeting: When we harvest the 100 acres of timber…if we harvest…not saying we will…but if we did…sometime…maybe soon…maybe not at all…yet…but, if we did….we will definitely replant…well…let me rephrase…at least that is our plan…I mean, if we don’t have a tenant by then….twenty, thirty years from now…who knows…hey, isn’t that my pen?

By the time Mr. Dobson finished speaking, I didn’t know whether to object or call an ambulance.

On other fronts, the Port was presented with a USDA grant in the amount of 40K to pay for engineering the water line extension (the Port will have to cough up another 40K in matching funds). How is it that those always so critical of government largess seem to be first in line at the public trough? Commissioner Hupp is fond of saying that Ports are a “different animal”. Apparently that difference extends only up till the sound of the dinner bell.

For the past two years, I’ve attended pretty much every Port meeting that was open to the public. When management wasn’t busy chasing Jack Miles around the flagpole, they were blaming the public, the County, the City, an employee, or a developer for something or other. Given the Port’s penchant for excuses and a recent history of unwise investments, is management not deserving of the reputation that it is steeped in public disenfranchisement and policy failure?


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Excerpts from:
More Smog Might Mean More Hospitalizations
By Robert Preidt

Long-term exposure to fine-particle air pollution may increase older adults' risk of being hospitalized for lung and heart disease, stroke and diabetes, a new study says.

Harvard School of Public Health researchers compared air-quality data with hospital admission records on all Medicare patients aged 65 and older admitted to 3,000 New England hospitals between 2000 and 2006.

The researchers focused on fine air particles known as PM2.5, which have a diameter of 2.5 microns or less and are narrower than the width of a human hair. These particles -- emitted by vehicles, power plants, wood-burning devices and some industrial processes -- can lodge in the lungs and cause inflammation throughout the body.

"Our study found that long-term rates of admissions for pneumonia, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes are higher in locations with higher long-term average particle concentrations," lead author Itai Kloog, a research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health, said in a University news release.

For example, every increase of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of long-term PM2.5 exposure was associated with a roughly 4 percent increase in hospital admissions for respiratory issues, a 3 percent increase in cardiovascular disease admissions, a 3.5 percent increase in stroke admissions and a 6 percent increase in diabetes admissions.

"Particulate air pollution is one of the largest avoidable causes of death and illness in the United States, and, unlike diet and exercise, does not require behavioral change," senior author Joel Schwartz, a professor of environmental epidemiology and Director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, said in the news release.

"Off-the-shelf technology can be retrofitted onto sources of pollution at modest cost, with a large health benefit," Schwartz said. "This study shows that in addition to avoiding deaths, such measures will reduce chronic disease and medical care costs."

SOURCE: Harvard School of Public Health, news release, April 17, 2012

Link to Harvard School of Public Health Study in
PLoS One:

Link to complete article: