Friday, January 11, 2013

Beware The Voting Bloc

Some commenters have requested that the Trojan Heron reprint a letter from John Evans that was carried in some of the papers. Given that we just elected Jamie Stephens as Council Chair, and given that Stephens holds two positions with the local Democratic Party, and given that candidates Byers, Stephens, and Pratt were all endorsed by the Democratic Party, I think it is very timely to reprint John Evans' letter.

Evans also has a great letter in today's Island Guardian. Please have a look at that letter too.

By the way, the Trojan Heron has always said that we do not think either Party has particular relevance to local issues. Our local government continues to seem like a grant-grubbing runaway train that listens to no one. That's a problem (looking for a solution) that is irrelevant to Party loyalty. No Party, or any group of people, has been able to solve that problem yet. Do you think the people receiving these endorsements will?
To the editor:
I recently had a conversation with an Orcas Island neighbor who is helping the SJC Democrats choose and field candidates for the upcoming County Council primary election. When I expressed surprise that the local SJC Democrat party was politically active in the non-partisan Council races he laughed at how naive I was being.
He told me the SJC Democrat activists were shocked when their two Council candidates on San Juan Island, incumbents Lovel Pratt and Howie Rosenfeld lost their elections to non-partisan candidates this November. Both Lovel and Howie had campaigned from the Democrat booth at the County Fair and held “public” meetings at the Democrat headquarters in Friday Harbor. The belief was that a SJC Democrat endorsement for a candidate and local Democrat Party support made winning an election almost a sure thing in San Juan County.
I guess I really am naive. I actually believe that Council candidates should follow rules under the Charter and conduct non-partisan campaigns. If candidates are willing to fudge the clear rules under the Charter, it begs the question of what other matters will they be willing to ignore? The barely disguised partisan campaigns of the two candidates who lost their Council seat elections may have seen voters say yes to the Charter and no to partisan politics.
The political parties in SJC County should have the integrity to follow the rules of the Charter. They should be scrupulous in not giving any hint of support for one Council candidate or another, either up front or behind the scenes. The San Juan County Charter gained broad public support because citizens were tired of party politics and the political activities of special interests such as the Friends of the San Juan’s.
Should individuals, independent of their political party preference work on behalf of the candidates they feel best represent their choice to be elected to the non-partisan Council? Absolutely, but lets follow the Charter and the law and keep political parties and special interest organizations at arms length.
Thank you for listening.
John Evans, former SJC County Commissioner
Served as an elected Republican in partisan elections prior to the adoption of the SJC Charter


  1. Gotta say - this is a double edged sword.

    John - who I respect greatly - seems to draw a line that could cut both directions. On one hand, the positions are officially non-partisan. All of the candidates are listed without party affiliation and for all institutional purposes and legal intent of the charter are absent any specific party assignment. The players are all playing within the same set of rules and by their own actions are following the law.

    On the other hand, the charter - i.e. the government - has absolutly no power over what outside entities have to say. This is called Free Speach and I would hope most here would support the concept. The XXXXX party (insert your affiliation) has the same rights to free speach as you, me or the crazy old lady down the street and nothing within the charter can take away from that.

    I dont think that there is any secret within the campaigns about which party the various candidates lean toward - and to be honest - accepting an endorsment from a party may serve to hinder more than help a candidate. That is to be left to the political strategists. But, in my mind it is inappropriate to confuse the important issues facing our county by questioning the freedom of any group to express their opinion.

    Say what you will about any candidate (that is your freedom), but do not claim that the charter is intended to inhibit anothers ability to exercise that same freedom. For if it was, it would be unconstitutional.

    Today, Tomorrow and Forever - Unafilliated!

  2. I do not believe that a candidate's desire not to affiliate with a party somehow labels that person as being unwilling to so because ... they must be ... a Republican. (cue up music from Psycho shower scene).

    This seems to be the subtext of the above comment. Where did anyone challenge free speech? If Jamie Stephens wants to serve in a politically nonpartisan capacity as required by the Charter while simultaneously (and cynically in my view) operating in the open as a party hack he has a perfect legal right to do so. Is it moral? Ethical? I don't believe it is.

    No, a number of good candidates chose not to affiliate because they are nonpartisan independent thinkers who are not nailed down to any party ideology. There is a big difference.

    Sure you could vote for folks that want their cake and eat it too. We can vote in a bloc of candidates who are guaranteed to play partisan political games with a public office.

    But why would we want to do that?

    1. Quite quite the contrary. The subtext and actually the latent text is that the parties should feel free to speak their minds. But the bigger issue is that while the charter set up non-partisan positions, it does not and should not affect the voices of any group - even political parties.

      If you are silly enough to base your voting on political party and endorsements then that is your own problem, but do not infer that the charter cares one way or the other. I'll vote according to the candidate and their record- or in this election perhaps their lack of record.

      Still Happily Unafilliated!

  3. As an unabashed Republican and Conservative, I wholeheartedly disagree with all this love of non-partisan status and fear of support from Political Parties. In the void presented by all this non-partisan nonsense, all elected representatives are inclined to join the “Government Party”. I don’t need to explain very much the behavior of this “Government Party”, as we are all aware of its daily actions in increasing its size, striving to provide ever more services, getting more grants, etc., etc. You rarely hear from any of these non-partisan representatives the simple admonishment to the government to “just stay out of our lives !”.

    The reason we have all this non-partisan crap is that we in small communities are afraid to deal we each other on the real issues, in a civil way. It’s much easier to not have any of these “messy” political arguments with our neighbors, and to just punt the partisan politics to our State and Federal issues and representatives.

    As far as I am concerned, a candidate who adopts the Republican label and support, probably believes in most of the values I support – that is : more personal freedom, fewer rules and regulation, less government, reduced taxes, better security and acceptance of my right to have guns, more belief in privatization and the private sector, reasonable/affordable environmental protection, and an attitude of “just get the government the hell off my back”.

    Islanders have taken care of these islands pretty well for a long time. Why don’t our elected officials have the b_ _ _s to tell all these outside agencies to just buzz off – we know how to do it. ( Oh dear, we might lose some grants, aka “free money”)

    But, alas, I am in the minority in this County. Gee, I hope I haven’t offended any neighbors.

  4. Consistently InconsistentJanuary 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    The trouble I have with both Parties is that they are consistently inconsistent. I would love a Party that really did stay out of people's lives, but both Parties feel no inhibition about becoming overbearing busy-bodies depending on the issue. The Dems seem to do it all the time about environmental and social issues. The Republicans seem to do it all the time on different social issues.

    I know each Party likes to believe their own rhetoric, but honestly, it isn't that believable to a lot of people anymore. That's why we see large numbers of people increasingly calling themselves independents.

    Both Parties have a terrible record of leaving people alone lately. I am greatly encouraged by the RoadKill Caucus at our State level, which finally has some hope of producing a workable session. It won't be "consensus," but maybe it will be a new model for working together.

  5. I don't think anyone ever advocated for the political parties to be silent, but the charter does advocate that the positions be non-partisan. What does that mean?

    We have a situation now where at least some candidates are behaving as partisans in every way, except in their ballot description.

    There are those of us who feel the influence of the parties is destructive, that they are puppet masters with their agendas and money. Look at Lovel Pratt. When she first ran for council, she only accepted small donations and refused to contribute anything other than the filing fee to her own campaign. Now, she's gone whole hog into the partisan experience, accepting large donations, seeking endorsements, and holding meetings at Dem offices.

    Sure, it's a free country and everyone has free speech and free association rights. That's not the issue. I am disappointed at what is happening nonetheless. We complain about national politics and national politicians, and then we act like them. Lovel Pratt's record is abysmal, but she's a loyal democrat, and that's the only reason why she got an endorsement.

    It's a crummy way to run a county, but I guess it's our way. Endorse and fund people for their party loyalty, not their qualifications or record.

  6. What's really interesting is that the San Juan Democrats (and they are mostly all on San Juan) are so extremely left-leaning that the Dems on the mainland wouldn't recognize them. Take a look at their platform. It's almost quaint. But they are all merrily writing letters to the other islands papers in support of Lovel and Lisa Byers. Withut the Democratic ward heeler IDs.

  7. Anonymous #1 of 8

    The real problem in this county, I think, is that people think of others in the most simplistic terms. "You are concerned about planning and permitting riding roughshod over people--you must be a REPUBLICAN." Even our dear departed Councilmember Pratt has been heard to challenge the participation of some at local charitable events because they are "property rights" supporters. (Using her best snide "civil discourse" tone, of course.) Sorry. Many of us are "property rights" supporters because we support the Bill of Rights, which to my mind includes the right to marriage for all and lots of other things not associated with the sound-bite version of "Republicans." I am neither Republican nor Democrat and I'm tired of the small minds who cannot comprehend that someone might think independently.

  8. And so, let us pray there be enough fiercely independent islanders left around here send this partisan package packing.

    And I think our Charter goes further than simply advocating for non-partisanship. It makes the elected positions nonpartisan in pretty plain English doesn't it? Like judges. The intention is impartiality, objectivity, due process and good old fashioned problem solving.

    As a life long Democrat who has lived in these beautiful islands long enough to know where the real trolls live, I can say with absolute conviction that what we have here is just a little local mafia pretending to be the Democratic Party. Having worked in national presidential campaigns and more I would say no, they are not really Democrats at all.

    They are just parasites. Rahm Emanuel would happily mail a dead fish to some of these guys. We should too.

  9. BRAVO!!! Anonymous #1 of 8.. I am with you.

  10. The troubling thing about political hacks is they know stuff the average person running for a political office has no clue about.

    Therefore the hacks easily man handle their person into a wining position. Pratt and Stephens have been on the ropes enough to know they want to ride with the hacks.

    IE: Any political operative worth a dime will tell you that allowing Stephens to be Chairman of the current sitting council was a huge mistake. Now Mr. Stephens becomes "Council Chair, Stephens."

    Any voter will think: "Gee, he must be a good guy, his own board made him Chairman."

    Or: "This guy must be very experienced and knowledgeable."

    Or, Or, Or. So it ain't just money it's also brains. John Evans, likely the most visionary person to ever serve as a County Commissioner, LOST because he (at that time) would not give up being a strident and proud Republican.

    There are many people both really conservative and really liberal who would be excellent County Commissioners without the fighting label Democrat or Republican.

    I hope this whole three person council deal gets snuffed by the courts and we keep or get six good people.

    We have some right now. Maybe the horizon will get closer.

  11. Dear TH: Any chance for a spell check? Now the TH is main stream, words should be spelled correctly. (Speach...Ouch) No offense to the writer, your thoughts clear and concise were appreciated by many, I'm sure.

  12. Um ... regarding "speach," I will look into how one gets comments spellchecked, but I fear we will have to muddle along with the poor spelling of our fellow citizens for the time being. I thought for a moment that you might be referring to bloc/block. In case anyone might think that the post title was misspelled, I quote the Oxford American Dictionary:

    Bloc - a combination of countries, parties, or groups sharing a common purpose: a center-left voting bloc.

    Block - an obstacle to the normal progress or functioning of something: substantial demands for time off may constitute a block to career advancement | an emotional block.

    In this instance, we meant "bloc" but we recognize the double entendre of the homophone :-)

  13. No question. "Bloc" is correct usage here even if the concern is more related to the anal usage.

  14. I think this bears repeating.....

    Cue up the Kinks music (lola)

    I met her in a bar down in old Eastsound
    Where you drink Kool-aid and pay with your visa
    V-I-S-A Visa
    She walked up to me and she asked me to vote
    I asked her her name and in a dark brown voice she said Lisa
    L-I-S-A Lisa lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa

    Well I’m not the world’s most liberal guy
    But when she pressed me hard, it opened my eye
    Oh my Lisa lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa
    Well I’m not dumb but I can’t understand
    Why cheap houses all over this land
    Oh my Lisa lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa lee-lee-lee Lisa

    We drank kool-aid and debated all night
    Under the compact florescent light
    She grabbed my shoulders and said vote for me
    Get me elected and then you’ll see
    Well I’m not the world’s most civic minded guy
    But when I looked in her eyes well I almost fell for my Lisa
    Lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa Lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa
    Lisa-Lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa

    Homes built of hay
    Homes for the poor
    Do we want some more
    I got down on my knees
    Then I looked at her and she at me

    Well we’re comin up on election day
    And I have to say no vote for my Lisa
    Lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa
    Grants from the broke and broken grants
    It’s a mixed up muddled up government except for Lisa
    Lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa

    Well I got my ballot just a week before
    And I’d never voted for a liberal before
    But Lisa smiled and took me by the hand
    And said dear boy, we’re gonna save this land

    Well I’m not the island’s most political man
    But I know if she wins, it’s gonna hit the fan
    Because of Lisa
    Lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa
    Lisa – lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa lee-lee-lee-lee Lisa

  15. So the Agenda21/FOSJ machine is cranked up to install the Pratt/Byers/Stevens Eco-Tribunal. Unless we want to become human exibits in a National Monument there needs to be some comparable effort for Jarman, Florenza, Hughes. I don't know squat about Ayers, and McClerren is some sort of Manchurian eco-zealot trying to run under the radar.
    These heart felt letters of support for Byers saying how good she is at, well, what is she good at? Extracting money from others!

    The Eco-Jihadists are going to win without a fight unless freedom loving citizens say enough FOSJ bull s..t is enough!

  16. Brian McClerran is not a "Manchurian eco-zealot" He is a level headed working man with a family who is trying to articulate a shockingly difficult concept in SJC; that he is, as many if not most of us are, pro-environment, but anti-control freak county government. This is a crucial distinction. He is in a tough place with a well oiled, deeply cynical machine to run against, and an opponent who simply can't understand why it is such a problem for people to spend thousands and tens of thousands of dollars to gyrate through our "protective" hoops. Come out too strong and you are branded a right wing, earth raper, nut case. Come out too soft and it looks like weak tea. McClerran has a fine line to walk, but he is learning fast. Perhaps, sir anonymous, rather than slamming him in an anonymous post, you could call him up, sound him out, and offer some good advice. 468-3075.

  17. I can assure you that Brian reads every word posted on the TH. Last time I checked, eco-warriors don't work in lumber yards or drive Jeeps.

    If you perceive my past involvement with the LCLT as a negative point, you should know that I do not live in a co-op and Sandy and Rhea probably view me as a threat to their pal Jamie Stephens.

  18. Yep, Brian is one of those rare things in politics. He's an authentic person, not a party-produced poser with a cadre of grant mongers as baggage.

    He's got my vote. Give him a good look, please.

  19. Brian is not Jamie Stevens. Any questions. Anything above and beyond that is icing on the cake.

  20. McClerren simply could hold up a couple of large pictures side by side. One is a picture of Stephens in his Jag, the other Brian in his jeep.

    The tag line: " Any question? THE CHOICE IS OBVIOUS, VOTE McCLERREN."

  21. If any of you candidates for the upcoming County Council election read TH, how about a simple declaration such as, "If elected, one of the first things I will propose is to repeal entirely all sections of the County Code that were recently changed as a result of approving the recent CAO's, and restore them to their original language. Then we will start over as required by the GMA with a much more balanced approach".

  22. Of, perhaps, an ordinance directing that the application and enforcement of all land use regulations grounded in the precautionary principle be --- you guessed it ---limited by application of a precautionary principle gounded in the preservation of vested rights in private property. Would be fun watching the county trying to prove the negative on that one. Tit for tat on "do no harm" works for me.