Posted by: sweeneyblog | September 20, 2013

Friday Odds and Ends: Debunking the Excavators

Hello Loyal Readers,

I hope this September is treating you well – I know it has been a mad flurry of activity for me as election season bubbles over, but I have managed to sneak in enough time to pick a giant box worth of tomatoes so if anyone has a good tomato sauce recipe, email them to me by clicking here.

Yes, the financial advisor turned business consultant is secretly . . . A COMMUNIST!

Yes, the financial advisor turned business consultant is secretly . . . A COMMUNIST!

Speaking of sticky messes, our first story is a double steaming dose from the anonymous writers at The Whatcom Excavator. First, they unloaded a mildly incoherent rant at port candidate Renata Kowalczyk, accusing her of secretly being in favor of a cashless society. Yes, Renata, the former bank vice-president, is secretly in favor of eliminating currency. What is their ironclad proof for their anonymous smears? She uses the words “connection” and “community.” Oh! And she is involved with Sustainable Connections. Using that criteria, Ben Elenbaas is secretly in favor of a cashless society. I can’t wait for that expose on him!

The other issue they raised was a bit more substantial. Perhaps inspired by my own PDC dumpster diving, the nameless authors took issue with Ken Mann’s 2009 PDC filings; specifically, what happened to the leftover cash (about $7k)? Republican party activist Chet Dow filed a complaint over the issue and almost simultaneously the unknown authors of the Whatcom Excavator put up an article decrying the Herald for not covering this complaint and accusing Mann of improperly disposing of the cash.

Except that as soon as the PDC alerted Mann of the discrepancy  he immediately handed over all the documentation. There were a few errors from sloppy bookkeeping at the end of the 2009 election, but aside from that, no scandal or intrigue. Mann provided me with an official statement about the issue and I reviewed all the PDC materials and found nothing improper.

The Whatcom Excavator might find that their relentless attempts to hurl mud might have a little more staying power if they had the courage to sign their names to their posts. Here at the Political Junkie, I stand behind what I have written and am answerable for it because that is how you engage in a democratic society. Hiding behind anonymity is a coward’s game.

A quick preview

A quick preview

Speaking of bravery, I’m headed into the lion’s den this Saturday. I will be appearing on Kris Halterman’s show from 8 – 9 a.m.  on KGMI to debate Whatcom Republican chair Charlie Crabtree about our party platforms. Kris Halterman is one of the organizers behind the shadowy “SAVEWhatcom PAC” that endorsed the Republican slate this year, but I have full confidence that this will be a fair and judicious discussion.

Finally, to all my Pagan readers, happy Mabon.



  1. Well I might have to listen to Kris’ show tomorrow! Speaking of SaveWhatcom: everybody on Facebook can see them spending money right and left* but we can also see that they don’t disclose their source of funds or those same expenditures with the PDC.

    I’ve run Facebook ads. The billing is immediate and they are clearly behind on their filing. What are they hiding? Who is paying for the ads? Who paid for their website?

    I’m happy to sign my name to my opinions.


    Lisa McShane

    * PUN!

    • My joy at using footnotes to denote puns knows no bounds.

      But seriously, good questions – I will continue to watch the PDC for any sign of who is funding this organization.

  2. I shudder every time I see a Ben Ellenbaas sign. i used to work at the BP refinery as he did (or does) and he was an obnoxious brain-dead conservative teabagger before there was a name for it. Exactly the wrongheaded knucklehead we don’t want in government…

  3. the anonymity thing is and has always been a pet-peeve of mine…I pretty much quit participating in discussions on the Herald forums that follow their stories because virtually no one will use his/her name…when I called everybody out on it, I got responses like, “Someone might find my address, I have a family,” etc., etc…my thought was that I should only be so important…Thanks Riley for mentioning the issue…the only thing worse than an over-the-top, un-factual, hyperbolic comment is the coward who won’t stand by what he or she hurls about the space we all share….

  4. Herald (and many other online newspapers) now only allowing comments through Facebook… so anonimity will require you to create a whole other FB profile… I like it much better!

    • oh, and thank you Suzy for that head’s up on the Herald forum thing…I’ve had some contact with Ralph Schwartz on the jail issue, on which he’s doing a reasonable job reporting, though I long for the time McClatchy, a multi-billion dollar company and owner of the Herald, invests in actual investigative stuff…they tend, locally at least, to report word for word what the agencies and officials tell them, and I’ve seen little digging, even though many times the record seemed to contradict the assertions they quoted from elected officials…

  5. Let us know if you locate a hornets nest in the crabtree. But do not poke it.

  6. we are becoming a body-politic that is easy to sway because of dis-interest, and even forgivable dis-interest at times because caused by an increasingly difficult struggle to survive for far too many americans…were the majority of citizen/taxpayers to truly comprehend policy matters that affect individual interests & well being, the present paradigm would not persist. We have a governing class, whose fault that is is a matter for more study, but that’s what we have…The enemy of democracy is not conservatism, and the enemy is not liberalism, the enemy of democracy is bullshit…The present leadership gets what they want to the extent that they first obscure what they’re doing, and second, by purposely failing to give voice to views & alternatives that night deem in the eyes of the majority, to be better ideas…

  7. Mixed opinions on the anonymity thing. I think it can be appropriate in the right context (witness the Federalist papers, considered today to be founding documents) and, of course, others. Many of those blacklisted in the McCarthy era were only able to survive afterwards by the use of pseudonyms. I have written magazine articles using pseudonyms because magazines were willing to pay for an article but did not want to use my name because I was writing regularly for another magazine in a particular field.

    Much of the crap posted anomalously in the comment sections of blogs and such would favor opposition to anonymity.

    I guess the best response is, “If you don’t like it, don’t read it.” I know for sure some who loudly proclaim in opposition to the use of fake names have used cover names themselves. I never have but, given the need, I would.

    • you’re right to point out that some, in the face of clear & present danger, concealed themselves, as they should have…many were sacrificed anyway…and it’s true, you’re right about turning the page, as I did when I simply stopped engaging in the conversations on the Herald’s site…Oh one thing though, a small thing…everyone who was anyone knew who the authors of the Federalists were (worst kept ‘secret’ of the era), which was in part why so many were printed at a rate never known—the celebrity of the authors was sufficient to sell a lot of newspapers…

    • It’s not the anonymity I object to — that is, as you point out, often needed. It’s the way it’s been used to lower the value and degrade the substance of the debate.

      I find it’s very easy for people to be angry, disrespectful, dishonest, and obnoxious when they don’t sign their own name to what they’re doing.

      The Excavator is no exception. Neither were the Herald comment boards. I have some reservations about the Herald forcing readers onto Facebook, but I probably prefer that at this point to a community conversation excessively polluted with anonymous trolling.

      There are plenty of places still people can and should be anonymous on the internet, and it is good those places exist. But the Herald doesn’t have to be one of them.

  8. Here’s an example of how weird things can get. I posted under my own name and through some oddity my name comes up as reconveyance challenge, the name of my former blog on that issue. Thanks, google

    Jack Petree

    • I think we need end all of our comments with “Thanks, google.” from now on. You make a good point that anonymity can be essential in some circumstances . . . I just don’t feel that this is one of those circumstances.

  9. Since you link to the excavator, I want to set the record straight about my comment. I did not say the Herald doesn’t want to influence the outcome of an election, period. How milquetoast does that sound? Not something I would say. Rather, I said, “doesn’t want to influence the outcome of an election unless there is something really going on worth reporting.” Enemies of candidates have a long and consistent track record of trying to undermine campaigns with dirt. It’s our job to do due diligence on that dirt before running to the press with it. That’s what I call doing our job.

    • Thank you Ralph, for your continued prudence and good judgement on this issue.

  10. […] the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). They dealt with two cases from Whatcom County recently, Ken Mann and the coal-funded PACs, SAVEWhatcom and Whatcom First.  Ken Mann had some sloppy filings […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: