Thursday, May 27, 2010

Impressions of a candidate forum. (18th District)

Went to the candidate forum last night at Battle Ground High School, put on by the Campaign for Liberty.

Around 65 people or so showed up; maybe 30 who were not related to campaigns or the organization putting this forum on.

It was well run and from all appearances, scrupulously fair. The Campaign for Liberty appears to have become or started out as a front for the followers of Ron Paul.

Candidates Ann Rivers, Jon Russell, Richard Carson, Brandon Vick and for the first time I've ever seen him in public, Dennis Kampe, the lone democrat running in the 18th, were there.

The only thing I had any real heartburn with was they would ask some really complicated questions requiring thoughtful answers, but then they'd give them 30 seconds on occasion to answer.

Candidates for any elective office must realize both their capabilities... and limitations. My almost 6 years on legislative staff in Olympia taught me nothing if it didn't teach me that no one coming up to that city can snap their fingers an effect change just because they were elected.

Legislation is a collaborative effort. It's not as if any candidate will roll into Caucus on Day One of their first session, snap their fingers and then magically, see that candidates agenda implemented.

Candidates who claim that they, personally, will be able to "fix," or "change" or DO anything other then make a serious, concerted effort are delusion or they're attempting to scam the voter into believing they have super powers.

When, for example, Brandon Vick claims that he will "fix" or "privatize L&I on Day One when you send me to Olympia," this causes me to wonder if he has even a remote clue as to what goes on in Olympia; or more importantly, if he knows HOW it goes on in Olympia.

I'm a supporter of Ann Rivers. I didn't see much of anything to change my mind... and I doubt that many (any?) minds were changed by what they heard or saw at the BGHS Commons.

Dennis Kampe toed the democrat line, mistakenly believing that the government is somehow directly responsible for employing people to the point that he wants to saddle us with this bridge project "to put 17,000 people to work"  (which only exaggerated the actual number by a paltry 15,000 or so) as if they all came from Clark County when, in fact, very few from this county would be employed; and as if our local economy wouldn't have a $100,000,000 yearly hole blown in it for tolls.

Kampe appears to believe that government does have a direct responsibility to put people to work while taxpayers pick up the bill. He claims to be big on "looking" at privatization, but refuses to support privatizing either the state's liquor monopoly or the states penal system.

So, while making the claim that "privatization" had to be "looked at," he failed to offer up any example of what he would privatize, and said "no" to the two options presented. In short, he does not support privatization... he just SAYS that he does because he's running in the 18th District.

He also supports a state income tax. Did Kampe SAY he supported that tax? Of course not. But while all of the other candidates opposed such a tax outright, Kampe refused to say... code speak for support.

Brandon Vick also supported replacing the bridge, wrongly telling us that the bridge was "unsafe," a conclusion disproven by head bridge bureaucrat Don Wagner, Region 6 DOT Administrator, who is quoted as telling us

Wagner said he has no doubts the existing crossings are safe , so much so that he drives and cycles across the spans without hesitation. 
"If we don't have an earthquake of any magnitude, those two bridges are going to stay there until something hits them," he said.
Wagner is getting paid to replace these perfectly serviceable and functional bridges with a price tag of $4 to $8 billion, and even he says they're safe.

That it is, as Vick put it, the only bridge with a light on it for the entire length of it provides no excuse to replace it given the horrific cost and the damage our local economy will suffer if this massive waste is built.

No candidate supporting the replacement of this bridge will be acceptable to me or thousands of others who will have to pay the tolls, estimated at $1300 per year, that will be unavoidably required to get this built. Blowing a $100,000,000 per year hole in our local economy isn't the way to make this county prosperous or to keep our economy humming.

And there is precisely ZERO chance this thing will be built without tolls. That fact is what makes the election of Tim "The Liar" Leavitt so galling to me, since he ran on a platform of fake opposition to bridge tolls.

I believe that the ONLY acceptable alternative would be a 3rd and 4th bridge, with the 3rd being built to the West/North of the current I-5 Bridge to relieve pressure on that span for a great deal LESS money than that projected to replace the I-5 Bridge.

That the I-5 Bridge "has a light" on it is no reason to spend billions on replacing it.

Jon Russell was much more subdued then in past appearances. He apparently read the memo about lying too much.

He did have some bizarre ideas: for example, implementing a sales tax to pay for everything, guaranteeing even more cross-border purchases and even less revenue and in-state economic development as citizens in Spokane, the Tri-Cities, and SW Washington vote with their wallets and increase their shopping trips to Oregon and Idaho... precisely like they will for cigarettes... an idea that also seems to be supported by Brandon Vick.

Amassing an increased tax burden on retail purchases, particularly in these horrific economic times, seems to me to be exactly the wrong thing, at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Russell also advocated bringing back the direct route idea between Camas and Battle Ground that's been floating around since long before his recent (2004) arrival. What was missing in his assessment was a lack of costs and a way to pay for it.

That doesn't make the idea a "bad" idea. What it makes it is a "not well thought out" idea. Russell also was positively giddy about his efforts to refuse any stimulus funding for Washougal. He made that point at least twice.

Russell relies a great deal on the verbiage of running on his record. He never addresses the most telling parts of his record, which is why I've started Jon Russell Watch.

Richard Carson is running as an independent. He makes it a point to exclaim that no independent has been elected since 1889... our year of statehood. Well, there's a reason for that.

Carson also never misses the opportunity to remind us that he is related to "Kit" Carson. Unfortunately for Carson, that's really not a reason to vote for him, and he lacks little reason otherwise.

I've addressed Carson's run before: He's a former Republican who looked the field over, decided he couldn't compete, either monetarily or politically, and made the decision to run as an independent, using that along with the "short form" pledge to avoid the nasty aspect of politics known as "fundraising."

He tells everyone that he won't "take special interest money." The problem here is that when you've declared that you won't raise over $5000, that's an easy pledge to take. When you deliberately set the bar so low that a blind man could jump over it in their sleep, that's certainly not a difficult goal to attain.

The problem here, again, is like his Kit Carson connection, it doesn't stand as any reason to vote for the man.

There are precisely 98 members of the State House of Representatives. None of them are now independents. And when session starts in Mid-January, 2011, none of them will be independents then, either.

It was a fascinating thing to watch. Slowly but surely, the differences between them are becoming apparent. And with 60 days or so left before ballot drop, it's not a moment too soon.

Cross posted at Clark County Politics.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jon Russell: The Richard Blumenthal of the 18th District.

I just had the dubious pleasure of watching 3 of the 4 declared candidates for the 18th go at it at GOP HQ's as what was originally billed as part of the weaning process. It was to be used only in the event of too many candidates if the dems announced someone else to run with Kampe to take advantage of the "top-two primary" system we have in place.

By now, we've likely all heard of democrat Richard Blumenthall, the multi-term democrat Attorney General of Connecticut who deserves a great deal of credit for the Carceiri decision that has jammed a stick in the spokes of the Cowlitz Mafia's efforts to jam their economic black whole down our throats.

Seems that Blumenthal has a serious positional awareness problem. He appears to have been confused about whether or not he's ever actually set foot in Vietnam and under what circumstances the trip took place.

Seems that Jon Russell has something of a similar problem; specifically, Russell's claim that his wife is a "physician."

When I sat through the 18th District meeting today, I was struck by a couple of things. First, he felt compelled to lie about his wife, referring to her as a "physician." That's where the Blumenthal thing came in.

She is not a "physician." She is, if anything, a physician's ASSISTANT. It's much the same as calling the guy putting the air in the plane's tires a "pilot." That only works if, in fact, that guy IS a pilot.

I have been hearing for months now that Russell has been lying about that, but this is the first time I've ever heard it from his mouth.

Bulletin: Sarah Russell is a "FNP," or "Family Nurse Practitioner." That does not a physician make, since physicians are, in fact, doctors.

Now, why does Russell have to exaggerate that way? I have no idea, but knowing the character of the man, I'm not surprised.

Because I was sitting in the crowd, Russell mentioned that he's had the "Port" as a client. In lying by omission, however, he neglected to mention that what he had done with the Port of Vancouver was make several thousand dollars off the Port's effort to jack us with the highest local tax increase in our history.

Oddly, he neglected to mention that aspect of his "Port" work.

In short, this "Chameleon conservative" made a LOT of money off of HIS efforts to jack up OUR taxes.

Not very conservative of you, Jon.

And then, it came to the issue of money. The candidates were asked how much money they had raised.

I was startled that Jon, who's PDC's report showed a paltry $5421 in both cash and in kind contributions just 12 days ago, has somehow managed to almost double in 12 short days since he reported. Yes, he indicated that he'd put together around $10,000.

But the oddest thing about his campaign figures wasn't the small amount of money he's collected; after all, given who he is, that was sort of expected.

The oddest thing is that according to his records, he hasn't given his campaign a dime.

REALLY odd considering the "quarter of a million dollar per year" clinic he claims to have.

You don't suppose that he "Blumenthaled" the amount he's actually collected, do you? I mean, as someone of proven, selective exaggeration, is that even possible?

But then, Russell was an abysmal failure as a money raiser during his congressional campaign; why would we expect anything different now?

The problem with a serial exaggerator and fake conservative who made money off a serious effort to jack up our taxes is that you cannot trust them to be anything other than what they need to be to get elected.

And that's what makes Russell the "Chameleon conservative," in other ways that I'll make clear over the upcoming weeks before the primary... ways that make him unfit for any elective office of any kind.

Russell has flat out lied about ME as part of his campaign, I would imagine that lying about himself is, well, easy.

These issues, of course, go beyond the basic competency issues engulfing Russell; his mishandling of the Washougal check book; the hiring of Washougal's unbondable City Finance Director and the like.

Jon never passes on the opportunity to talk about those aspects of his career as a part of the Washougal city council that HE wants you to hear about. He seems strangely reticent about the rest.

But then, I guess that's what people have me around for, isn't it?

Cross posted at Clark County Politics.

Fixing the Jon Russell Tea Party dodge.

In my post, below, entitled So, is Jon Russell a RINO? I indicated that I had received information from two separate sources that Russell was considering running as a "Tea Party" candidate as opposed to a Republican if polling indicated that was the best way for him to go.

I stand by that observation.

However, since Russell is so easy to maneuver, the whole point of the exercise of posting that information was to make him run as a Republican. That effort was successful as today at the 18th District meeting, he was forced to address the issue by declaring that his idea, previously expressed to at least two other people who have discussed this with me, is no longer on the table.

Calling what I wrote "a complete lie" was a bit over the top, though, but nevertheless, it had the desired outcome.

Friday, May 14, 2010

So, is Jon Russell a RINO?

Usually, the title "RINO" is applied to someone not unlike Jaime Herrera, who co-sponsored and voted for SEIU legislation the past two sessions while voting to strip out the last $229 million from the state emergency fund... or our completely worthless Secretary of State, Sam Reed, who has done nothing to improve election security; nothing to require proof of citizenship to register to vote and who, because it makes his job much easier, has been an advocate of restoring voting rights to convicted felons as soon as they're released... instead of after they've completed ALL of the requirements of their sentences such as restitution and probation.

But there is more than one kind of RINO. There's the opportunistic, far right variety... like Jon Russell.

Two separate sources have confirmed to me that Russell has indicated that he may file as a Tea Party member as opposed to a Republican.

That's kind of bizarre on a variety of levels, but given a review of the record, maybe not so much:

Russell, not all that long ago, ran the Port Levy campaign.

That's right; Jon Russell, alleged conservative, ran the campaign to slam those living in the Port District with the largest tax increase in local history.

That's not very "conservative" of you, Jon.

And telling people you're considering running under some other banner besides that of the Republican Party isn't, well, very Republican of you.

In fact... you could be called a RINO for that sort of thing, couldn't you?

But then... a fine, upstanding young man like Jon would never do THAT... that Florida Governor Charlie Crist thing.... would he?


Cross posted at Clark County Politics.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is it time for Russell and Vick to withdraw in the 18th?

In reviewing the most recent PDC's for fundraising, we see the following numbers of note:

So, what we have here is Rivers having raised about $28,000 or so, Russell (who filed manually) at $4500 or so, and Brandon Vick at $2750 raised (The rest of the money showing is in-kind and loans.)
According to the records, Brandon Vick raised $300 in the month of April. Shannon Barnett's endorsement availed him nothing.
Russell, abortive Congressional candidate, raised $1524 for the month of April.
People, your horse is so dead that the corpse has walked away. Beating it any further... I dunno... just seems like an exercise in futility.
For your political futures, the one thing I would think you'd want to avoid is humiliation. But that's what it seems you're facing.
You can't win a campaign on $300 months. You can't. And you can't do much better on $1500 months, either.
But hey, that's the beauty of our system. So, if'n you're of a mind, knock yourselves out.

Just sayin'
Cross posted at Clark County Politics.