Posted by: sweeneyblog | November 16, 2012

Friday Odds and Ends: Murray, Murray and Gold Fever

Hello Loyal Readers,

Sorry for the slow week, I’ve been doing a great deal of data crunching from the election and will have some charts and graphs for you this weekend (hopefully) or next week (more likely). Now, without further ado, onto the Odds and Ends:

  • Ed Murray (D)

    Right now our State Senate is in a state of flux. Why? Blame Vancouver, WA where Democrat Tim Probst is battling it out with Republican Don Benton. In the last count, Benton led by 65 votes so it will definitely be headed to recount territory. Why is this so catastrophic? Well, if Benton wins, that means the Senate will contain 26 Democrats and 23 Republicans, however two of the Democrats (Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon) sided with the Republicans last year to throw control of the budget over to the Republicans. This year, if they have that same leverage, Tom and Sheldon have stated they would force a “power-sharing” agreement that would divide the committee chairs among Democrats and Republicans rather than the majority party controlling all the gavels. From a “we need more compromise” point of view, this sounds like a good idea, but from a “functional government” standpoint, this would lead to chaos. The reason the majority party has the gavel in committees is so they can work with the majority leader to move bills that have the votes to pass through the system. With differing parties controlling part of that structure, you would have committees becoming legislative munitions shops, cranking out bills so the other party would have to kill them on the House floor, or killing bills in committee so they would never get an honest vote on the floor.

    Among all this impending doom, Ed Murray (D-Seattle) was elected majority leader to replace outgoing Lisa Brown. We speculated about this last year, and Murray is a solid choice. He has an impressive legislative record and this officially makes him the highest ranking LGBT official in Washington state. Tip of the hat to you, Ed.

  • In the other Washington, Sen. Patty Murray continues her rise in power. In 2012, she was the lead for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and oversaw one of the most impressive slew of wins the Senate Democrats have seen since 2006. Using that goodwill, she is claiming the chair of the Senate Budget committee from retiring Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND). Murray spoke to Politico about the differences in outlook between Conrad and herself. Conrad, a long-time austerity guy, has often argued for slashing Social Security and Medicare benefits. Murray, on the other hand, spoke to a more balanced approach. ““I think what’s been lacking from our discussion for a long time is really that other part of what a Budget chair does, which is set the priorities for this country in terms of making sure we invest in the right places: in education, in job training, and to make sure we do a balanced approach moving forward.” She also spoke out strongly in favor of having the wealthy pay their fair share. Either way, the growing influence of Patty Murray bodes well for Washington as she will be well-positioned to bring resources back to her home state.
  • Rep. Jason Overstreet‘s pirate-like obsession with gold has spread to Montana, where state representative Jerry O’Neil (R-of course) has demanded that his legislative salary be paid entirely in gold or silver. Yes, seriously. Look, I know there are concerns about inflation and currency manipulation but let me lay this out for you. Right now, the gold market is a scam, pushed on right-wing radio designed to artificially inflate the price of gold. Anyway, it is always rare and oddly reassuring when I find a legislative district with members more out there than my own.
  • Wetlands on Jail Site

    Finally, local community-minded patriot Doug Starcher (who, I remind you, is awesome), drove out to the junkyard near the new jail site and noticed that the prospective site apparently contains some wetlands. Why is this important? Aside from the potential environmental concerns, it will continue to add to the cost of the jail. Another factor to be considered if and when we get to see what the county is planning. Right now, I’d say this wetlands ranks a 2.7 on the Jack Petree scale. What does that mean? I have no idea.

That’s it for today. As I mentioned, more posts in the works. I still need to pick up my public records requests concerning the jail and have a couple of posts about upcoming races next year. For now, stay warm, because it is freezing out there.



  1. Any one with half a brain would be heavily invested in gold.

    • You are correct!

      • Did you just comment on your own comment? Wow.

  2. First coffee-spray guffaw of the morning on the Doug Starcher meme.

    • Success!

    • @ Janet, Was it my patriotism or the awesome poster Riley made?

  3. Riley- glad to see the photo of the possible jail site. When the probable location was posted, my first thought was that someone should get out a topo map and have a close look, given the proximity of the location to the Nooksack. This may be in a flood zone.

  4. *sigh* basic economics, if people think something is valuable then it is, doesn’t really matter if the item has any value. Gold is worth something because people still believe it is, if you want an example of this, for a small period people used tulips as currency.

    • Exactly. And, like most fads, it will fade away here at some point.

  5. Pirate-like! That’s a good one.
    Gold is a good investment since it’s both a utile commodity and a cosmetic hedge but nobody needs it in their pay envelope. And when you try to liquidate your bounty, you’ll still be trading it for dollars.

  6. From 11/16/2012

    Candidate Raised Spent
    BENTON DONALD M $457,290.62 $384,349.70
    PROBST TIMOTHY P $330,267.48 $306,355.34
    plus $320K combined in independent opposition (read SuperPACs)

    To put that in perspective: Our four 2012 42nd candidates didn’t quite raise $300K combined with almost $0 independent expenditures.

    For all legislative campaigns (2012 election cycle WA house and Senate):
    Total Raised: $25,227,384.11 Total Spent: $20,404,883.97
    plus almost $6M in dependent support and opposition (read SuperPACs).

    What exactly are the donors buying and who is spending that kind of money?

  7. Not just right wing radio that shills gold. I have heard it pitched frequently by hosts on Radio 1090, Seattle’s sole left wing station which will convert to Seattle’s fourth all-sports station on January 1.

    With Portland’s “liberal station” making an identical conversion, maybe we are starting to put a crack in the liberal bias of our media that I have learned about on Fox News.

  8. I have no idea what 2.7 on the Petree scale means either.

    I will say, it is fashionable to take photos of various pieces of land that “appear” to be wetlands – a big implication with little support.

    After a big rain I can take my camera down to most paved parking lots in town and get similar photos… same with many of Bellingham’s roads… the photo means nothing. Wetlands are a function of drainage, soil type, and some other parameters. They can often be identified by the types of plants growing in and near them. Drive Whatcom County in the spring, summer and early fall and look at the buttercups… The whole damn place is a wetland.

    So, I guess, 2.7 on the Petree scale means a big yawn with a caution to the powers that be to investigate the place with the same eager enthusiasim they would use to harass a private landowner trying to build on the land and provide a couple of jobs.



  9. Or you could always look at something like this:

    Appears not to be in the 100 year floodway, although close.

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