11/7/2006 – General Election – Redmond, King County, Washington

It's voting time! Now why, you might ask would I publish the way I'm planning on voting? Well, if I can convince one other person to vote the way I will then I've doubled the power of my vote. And if someone convinces me to change my vote then I'll have been saved from making a mistake.

As for those who are wondering why a privacy activist like me would publish such private information keep in mind two things. One, I choose to publish this information and choice is the core of privacy. Two, at least until mandatory mail in ballots come to King County in another year or two no one actually knows how I really voted.

Initiative Measure 920 – NO

This measure would abolish Washington State's estate tax which only applies to the assets of the dearly departed over a $2 million threshold. In other words, the first $2 million is tax free. I personally believe that a hereditary aristocracy will sap the life blood from our republic and give us an even more unfair and unjust society. So I am a strong believer in estate taxes for the explicit purposes of hindering the formation of such aristocracies. Furthermore the very ability to form vast fortunes in the first place is not an inherent right but an outcome of our social policies and what social policies give so they can take away. Think of it as payment for services rendered. Besides, given all the issues facing Washington State and the country was it really useful to spend our limited resources on putting this issue to ballot? I do appreciate the chutzpah of the wealthy but this is an easy no.

Initiative Measure 933 – NO

The basic concept behind 933 is appealing to me, if the government takes value from an individual's property in order to provide value to the general public then the general public should compensate the harmed property owner. But here's the funny part, the opposite should also be true. If the general public creates value that benefits some property owners more than others then shouldn't the property owners receiving the disproportionate benefit have to pay back the general public? For example when a new school or new road or new park goes into an area it is usually paid for by the city or county but it is the people in the immediate vicinity of the new facility that receive the lion share of benefits. So in that case, using the logic of 933, those people should be made to pay more money than the rest of the city/county's citizens. Yet, oddly enough, 933 doesn't address that case. It looks at takings, but not givings.

The language in section 3 of the bill, that sort of (but not quite) allows public agencies to waive their own rules rather than enforce them and have to compensate property owners will inevitably be turned into a full assault on land use regulations. The state and certainly local cities and municipalities don't have the money to fight expensive lawsuits this act will spawn. So the real result of this initiative will be to end land use regulations in Washington State. And, for bonus points, keep in mind that the initiative is explicitly written to address 'property' in the broadest sense. Although we speak of this act in terms of land use it actually applies to all personal property in just about all forms. The consequences of such broad language are more than I care to think about.

This bill is so broad that I don't believe anyone actually appreciates what its full effects will be but at a minimum it will remove land use regulations which, even without the bill's reach into uncharted territory is more than enough to justify voting against it.

Initiative Measure 937 – YES

This initiative would mandate that large utilities (public or private) have to get 15% of their power supply from 'renewable resources' by 2020 with a number of intermediate targets between now and then. Utilities that don't meet their targets have to pay fines although in practice the 'payer' of the fines will be the public.

I really don't like this initiative. I think it's approach is fundamentally wrong headed. I believe that good laws mandate an outcome but allow flexibility in how that outcome is achieved. I believe that a good law regarding power generation would define the general characteristics of desirable power (E.g. it doesn't add extra pollution, it doesn't use up limited resources, etc.) and allow for any source that meets this description to be used. This encourages innovation. Instead this initiative in section 3 part 18 just gives a laundry list of acceptable 'renewable resources'. If someone comes up with something that isn't on the list then tough luck, the law doesn't apply. I believe this kills creativity.

I also don't know if mandating that energy come from renewable sources even makes sense. Shouldn't the goal really be to reduce over all pollution and reliance on non-renewable sources of power? So if a utility, for example, finds a way to reduce its customers energy consumption by 50% but doesn't meet the 15% target for 'renewable power' should they be punished? Yes, I know, the initiative does include some language around energy conservation but it doesn't appear tied to the renewable resource requirements.

I think this initiative uses bad approaches, it dictates methods rather than outcomes. I'd much rather see an initiative that forces consumers of energy to pay taxes that approximate the public damage done by the sources of the energy. That would be the most effective way possible to reduce pollution and our dependency on non-renewable energy.

So I'm left in a quandary. Do I vote for a bill that I think heads us in the right direction even if it does so in a wrong headed way or do I vote to essentially do nothing since that seems the only other option on the table? I'd rather vote for a flawed bill that pushes money into renewable energy than have no bill at all. So I vote, with regret, Yes.

House Joint Resolution 4223 – YES

As I understand it property taxes in Washington State are mostly paid by small businesses on personal property used for business purposes. Currently there is a $3,000 exemption from this tax, this resolution would increase the exemption to $15,000. Since the rules are written into the state constitution the resolution apparently requires voter approval.

Why isn't this resolution indexed to inflation? Better yet, why doesn't it put the exemption at the discretion of the state legislature? I don't like writing this kind of detail into state constitutions. A good constitution, much like the good law described in the previous section, sets goals not means.

But whatever, the exemption sounds like happiness. This type of tax is very regressive. It hits poorer businesses more than richer ones who end up having to pay proportionally more of their income on the tax. Increasing the exemption will actually help the poorer businesses most. As someone who hates regressive taxes this resolution seems a no-brainer. So I'm voting yes.

United States Senator – Bruce Guthrie

  • Maria Cantwell – On October 25th, 2001 the first in what has proved to be a series of bills aimed at destroying our most fundamental freedoms was presented for vote to the U.S. Senate. It is my belief that any senator who could even pretend to honor their oath of office to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States" would have voted against this bill. But the price for such a vote would almost certainly have been political suicide. Maria Cantwell had a choice to make, protect the fundamental freedoms of this country or protect her career. She choose her career. She was tested and she failed. In my opinion she is unsuitable to hold public office and I will not vote for her.

  • Mike McGavick – Sigh… reading his candidate statement is just embarrassing. Apparently insecure borders are so high on his priority list that he has to waste space in his candidate statement on them. And, of course, there's terrorism. Strangely enough I see nothing about protecting us from a President and a Congress who seem more interested in taking away our freedoms and spending our soldiers lives and our country's treasure on pointless battles against imaginary enemies (with the consequence of having created many more, very real, very deadly enemies). I have no interest in voting for George Bush.

  • Bruce Guthrie – The issues he highlights, such as the war in Iraq, the destruction of our freedoms, fair elections, etc. are exactly the ones I worry the most about. His positions seem reasonable enough although his website while admirably clear on his general positions leaves out the details and background that would give me a sense of what he'll do in office. I'll give him some credit though, his website is a hell of a lot slicker than most Libertarians manage to run and I love his bit about temporarily mortgaging his house to qualify for the monetary minimums need to get into the televised Senate debate. Because of his obscurity I don't believe I know enough about Mr. Guthrie to be as comfortable as I would like to be in voting for him and I have to admit I came very close to voting for Mr. Dixon but in the end Mr. Guthrie gets my vote.

  • Robin Adair – Ms. Adair's candidate description is, at best, incoherent. Her website is worse. While I realize that being incoherent is no bar from even the presidency I prefer to vote for candidates I can understand.

  • Aaron Dixon – Even though there are now decades worth of documented proof that Iran has repeatedly and consistently lied about its nuclear program Mr. Dixon thinks their program is peaceful. He also thinks that "Jerusalem must return to being an international city, one in which Jews, Muslims and Christians can worship freely in and live in harmony." I'm sorry, what?!?! In what version of history was Jerusalem ever an international city? In fact, the only time in modern (or ancient history, for that matter) that Jerusalem was readily available for folks of all major religious stripes to worship in is since it became the unified capital of Israel. I also find his views on economics disturbing. While I agree that NAFTA/CAFTA/etc. were deeply flawed in many ways (opening competition in all areas except those dominated by the rich, funny that in effect we have free trade in manufacturing jobs but not engineers, lawyers or doctors (and yes I'm channeling Dean Baker)) his solutions are empty slogans about 'fair trade', whatever that is. I found his comments on Cuba almost laughable: "It serves as a constant reminder that even a small nation can operate independently outside the U.S. orbit, and prosper." Prosper? Oy. If that's prosperity I'd hate to see his idea of poverty. Then there is his background, filled with all sorts of things like not voting, debts to the city and including a conviction for cashing $7,000 in bad checks, although that was 20 years ago. But to balance all of that is a life spent in service to the people. I think if Mr. Dixon took his own campaign run more seriously, if he had cleaned up things like the outstanding debts before trying to run, etc. then I would probably have voted for him. I'm certainly more comfortable voting for someone like Mr. Dixon with a well understood background and set of opinions then someone who to me appears to be an unknown like Mr. Guthrie. But for now Mr. Guthrie has run his campaign with a serious intent to win, given the kind of nonsense swirling around Mr. Dixon I can't give him the same credit.

United States Representative – First Congressional District – Jay Inslee

  • Jay Inslee – Much as with Ms. Cantwell Mr. Inslee was tested and failed his country completely. Unlike Ms. Cantwell, however, Mr. Inslee has been a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq and in fact voted against the bill authorizing the war. While it doesn't make up for voting for the Patriot Act it did take guts. Also unlike Ms. Cantwell, he voted against the Patriot Act re-authorization. I can't forget nor fully forgive Mr. Inslee's failure of our country but I have to give him credit for making up lost ground. Apparently Mr. Inslee's signature issue is the New Apollo Project, a plan to increase our energy efficiency and reduce pollution. Frankly the project looks like yet another big government led initiative to define our economy. No offense but the government sucks at such things. Why can't we just have a pollution tax and let the market figure it out? As long as the government does its job as an honest broker making sure that pollution is measured fairly and consistently we can use market forces to create new opportunities. Instead Mr. Inslee wants the government to create incentives to navigate our way out of our current environmental mess. I'm sorry but I don't trust the government to get it right. I also find his blather about the evil of offshoring rather bothersome but his solutions don't seem too awful. I actually think helping to retrain people whose jobs have been obsoleted by offshoring is a good thing. The market isn't perfect and I do believe that government can play a useful role in rounding out the rough spots. While Mr. Inslee's government first attitude isn't quite to my liking I generally find myself in agreement with him so he gets my vote.

  • Larry W. Ishmael – What I love about the Internet is that it gives candidate a very easy way to communicate, at length, with their constituents. Jay Inslee's website was a decent (but not great) example of that. Mr. Ishmael's website is not. He has what to me read like some fairly empty platitudes without a lot of details about the economy and foreign policy. Frankly I'm comfortable with Mr. Inslee's foreign policy objectives and although I don't quite see eye to eye with him on the economy his general direction and focus is fine with me. I just couldn't find anything that Mr. Ishmael said that had enough substance for me to really respond to or to motivate me to vote for him.

State Senator – 45th Legislative District – Toby Nixon

  • Eric Oemig – O.k. so he really is into education. Fantastic, I agree that a good educational system is critical to a well functioning and prosperous society, more to the point, it is critical to a just society. Fine, he wants to reduce class sizes, increase pay for teachers, etc. But um… how? Where is the money going to come from? What is he going to get rid of to pay for his grand plans? He also is apparently into Transportation issues and say we have to make things better, but um… how? And how will he pay for it? Oh and he wants to cut taxes. I'm sorry, but what? You can spend money, or you can cut taxes, but given the state of our economy you currently can't do both. It's easy to spout platitudes and hard to have details, I don't see any details on Mr. Oemig's website.

  • Toby Nixon – I really liked the things Mr. Nixon had to say on his site. Unlike Mr. Oemig, Mr. Nixon doesn't just propose grand sounding goals, he gets into details on how he will achieve those goals. Want better roads? Raise gas taxes. Want to replace the WASL? Go to more multi-state standardized testing. Want better health care? Get companies out of the way between people and their health insurance providers. In reading Mr. Nixon's views I found myself largely in agreement with him, with the exception of his views on abortion. If abortion were an unsettled issue in Washington State his opposition might have been enough to get me to vote against him. But over all I really liked what he had to say and so am very comfortable in giving him my vote.

State Representative – 45th Legislative District – Position 1 – Roger E. Goodman

  • Roger E. Goodman – Mr Goodman apparently comes from the same communication school as Mr. Oemig, put out grand plans (better transportation, better health case, better education) but skip the details. Come on! It's a website, you can create as much content as you want. You can arrange it anyway you want so that short blurbs are up front and details are available behind links. This is your chance to communicate with the voters, why don't you take it? Still in comparison to Mr. Possinger he is a veritable chatter box and what he said was generally o.k. with me so Mr. Goodman gets my vote. How's that for a weak recommendation?

  • Jeffrey Possinger – Wow, if Mr. Goodman is brief, Mr. Possinger is positively mute on his website. In essence Mr. Goodman gets my vote by default.

State Representative – 45th Legislative District – Position 2 – Tim Lee

  • Larry Springer – Sigh… Mr. Springer apparently shares notes with Mr. Possinger in terms of providing information about his views on his website. Oy, talk about content free.

  • Tim Lee – His website wasn't quite as informative as I would like (and towards the end of his issues page he degenerates into empty verbiage) but at least he starts off by stating specific problems and his desired solutions which generally seemed fairly reasonable. Basically, don't let builders build new developments without a road plan, require 60% approval in the state legislature to raise taxes and don't let education money get diverted. All good stuff. He gets my vote. <twirling mustache>Of course as a Microsoft employee my vote for him is probably part of an evil plan to get him elected so he will be distracted by his legislative duties and so be unable to focus on his business selling Linux systems. </twirling mustache>

Justice of the Supreme Court – Position 2 – Susan Owens

King County District Court – Northeast Electoral District – Judge – Position 2 – Frank V. LaSalata

King County – Proposition No .1 – YES

  • Oh come on, they just had a prop 1 on the primary ballot! Sure, this is a different ballot, but it's more than a little confusing to have two completely different prop 1s on two ballots only two months or so apart. In any case I can't find out anything about this proposition besides what it says, which basically is – we bought land a bunch of years ago, we paid for it, we improved it, we don't need it, please let us sell it. The only interesting things I could find is that the complete text lists the wrong date for the election and it declares that selling these properties constitutes an emergency. I'm guessing the emergency declaration is a required incantation to get the issue on the ballot. But in any case I suppose I'll vote yes even though nobody could be bothered to submit a statement for or against the proposition.

King County – Proposition No. 2 – NO

  • This proposition would raise sales takes by 0.1% (that's 1/10th of 1%) to pay for improvements in King County transit following the "Transit Now" plan, which basically means more buses. I'm sick and tired of special taxes for special purposes. Sure, there are times when tying specific taxes to specific purposes makes some sense, say requiring we use gas taxes to pay for improving roads or fighting pollution. But I consider those the exception. I understand the logic of 'don't let the jerks divert our money' but locking in the cash just sets the expectation that the politicians are free to do whatever they want with the cash that isn't locked down. If you want to raise my taxes prove to me that you can't reasonably cut existing spending and that the new money is going somewhere useful. While I think the "Transit Now" plan may possibly be a useful use of my money I haven't seen any arguments about why it can't be paid for out of existing government funds and I still don't like special purpose taxes. So I'm voting no.

10 thoughts on “11/7/2006 – General Election – Redmond, King County, Washington”

  1. Wowza! First, you’re back at Microsoft, and silence, and then I get to learn something completely different from your world.

    Fascinating. Thanks for the thoughtful analysis. The lesser of n evils problem is every with us, isn’t it. I see that I’ll need to look at some web sites and not just read the candidate statements.

  2. Thanks for your vote! It means a lot to me.
    We must bring the troops home from Iraq, defend our constitutional liberties, reduce the deficit while maintaining our promises to our seniors and veterans, and defend marriage equality for all!

  3. Hey Dennis! I have been silent mostly because I’m working my fingers to the bone getting out specs for the project I’m PMing.

    In a few months when things ease up a bit I expect to have an explosion of things to blog about. But for now it’s shipping time!

    BTW, I use the candidate statements more as a way to cut a candidate out than as a reason to vote for them. E.g. if they have an incoherent statement (like Robin Adair) or if they say things I find silly (like Mike McGavick) then I might visit their website but otherwise I ignore them. If the candidate statement seems reasonable then I check their websites, do a quick search on the PI, Seattle Times, the Stranger and the Internet. The websites are usually my primary source of data, I use the other resources mostly to see if there are things the candidate is trying to hide (although their opponents are usually happy to point out any issues =).

    With the Internet it’s easier than ever for a candidate to make their voice heard, unfortunately many candidates don’t take advantage of the opportunity.

  4. Mr. Guthrie, thanks for dropping by! I do wish you would provide a few more details on your site (Toby Nixon and the first part of Tim Lee’s pages do a good job here) but overall I’m really glad you’re running. I don’t vote parties, I vote people and of the people running you’re the one I want to see elected. Thank you for providing us all with a ‘not lesser of two evils’ option.

  5. didn’t agree with everything but very helfull anyway…thanks for your input and for the time taken to sort all these issues out.

  6. I did a search for opinions regarding I-933, as I am currently undecided regarding this initiative and want to hear what others believe so I can make a determination on this confusing Initiative). To that end, I read your opinion regaridng I-933, and I fully agree with you regarding your send paragraph statement. However, I only half agree with your opinion covered in the first paragraph (reciprocal compensation–those in the immediate vacinity should shoulder the bulk of the funding of a park or such). I believe that argument would be quite valid for a small, local park or improvement of a residential road or such. In that case, then yes, the local residents within the immediate vacinity should be primarily (maybe wholly?) responsible for the funding of such a neighborhood improvement. But what about improvements to the Space Needle or other privately owned project of equal massiveness that is not used nearly exclusively by the residents in the immediate vacinity? (Unless it has changed in the last few years, the Space Needle is/was owned by the Space Needle committe, it’s not a city-owned entity/) Therefore, it would be covered under the impact of I-933. In that case, it simply would not be fair that the residents of Queen Anne primarily take on the financial responsibility when such a property clearly attracts residents from nearly all of the surrounding cities, and let’s face it…even other states and some foreign visitors. How does one iron out the impact of I-933 under such an issue? I realize that this is an isolated case, but still, I cannot decide on I-933 simply due to the fact that there are current laws within the U.S. as well as state constitutions that provide compensation for property owners in seizure disputes. So if that’s the case, what is the purpose of I-933. What does I-933 cover that current federal and state laws do not already provide property owners? Just my thoughts on a confusing initiative. Thanks

  7. In the case of the Space Needle the costs were born by the builders, not the city, so there is no issue in terms of making people pay for the benefits of the Space Needle. The real issue is – when the city puts in new roads or helps to redevelop the neighborhood around the Space Needle therefore making the Space Needle a more compelling tourist attraction should the owners of the Space Needle have to pay for those extra services from the city?

    I’m suggesting that following I-933’s logic the answer would have to be yes. After all, if the Space Needle can demand money from the state for laws that cost the Space Needle owner’s money then in the same sense the owners should have to cough up cash any time the city does something that brings them unique benefit. But that quid pro quo is completely missing from I-933. I’m not suggesting we want to start charging people but I am suggesting that it’s interesting that I-933 is happy to take money from the state but not so happy to give money back. Funny that.

  8. Initiative Measure 920 – This only hurts those who inherit over 2 million. Everyone else who did not get 2 million do not get taxed. I think anyone who suddenly becomes another million or more richer can cope, somehow, supporting better education.

  9. You are so wrong about 920 and 933. Your liberal bias is clear. First of all it IS a right to inherit vast fortunes. This IS a free country.
    Second of all, it is your OPINION that living next to a public park is a benefit. Some property owners may not like all the extra people and traffic it creates. So, NO they wouldn’t owe the government anything for building a park adjacent to their property. So your point is not logical.
    Yet a property taking is a clear issue. Compensation must occur.

  10. I have my opinions, I like to think I’m fairly clear about what they are and why. Why is that a bias?

    I am personally unaware of an inherent right to inherit vast fortunes, could you show it to me in the federal constitution? Maybe the state constitution? Perhaps arguments in natural law?

    As for parks and such, I completely agree, one person’s benefit is another person’s bane. But we aren’t discussing ‘likes’ we are discussing financial benefit. The argument that 933 makes is that if the government causes someone financial harm then the government should compensate the harmed person. I’m arguing that to be fair 933 must also enforce the opposite.

    If property prices in the neighborhood near the park go up (even if the property owner doesn’t personally like the park) then the government’s actions have disproportionally benefited the property owner and the property owner should have to pay up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *