Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 24, 2014

Friday Odds and Ends: Elections Have Consequences

Hello Loyal Readers,

It is time again for our weekly feature, Friday Odds and Ends, where I share all the news that’s important enough to share, but not enough to justify its own post.

Dan Robbins wants more Attorneys, less Public

Dan Robbins wants more Attorneys, less Public

There is a popular refrain that elections have consequences. Newly elected Port Commissioner Dan Robbins demonstrated that when he blocked an effort by Michael McAuley to move Port Commission meetings to the evening. Currently, the port meets in the afternoon and Robbin’s opponent last year, Renata Kowalczyk, campaigned on this issue. However, Robbins prevailed and refused to budge.

McAuley argued that evening meetings would allow for more public participation, Robbins voted it down because sometimes the port hires attorneys and consultants out of Seattle and driving home late is hard. I wish I was joking but that’s one of the reasons Robbins gave.

Meanwhile, SSA Marine is still trying to delegitimize the election we just had. They sent out an email yesterday that was apparently published in the Herald at some point, arguing that, “Two of the four lost the vote in the council districts that they now represent, having been thrust into office primarily by voters from Bellingham. Only 55 percent of countywide eligible voters bothered to cast their ballot.” See, they seem to say, it didn’t count because the county voters didn’t vote in enough number to win. It only counts if the county votes.

First of all, Kathy Kershner lost her own district when she was elected in 2009, as did Tony Larson when he was elected in 2010, that did not make them any less legitimate. The chair of the Whatcom Republicans, Charlie Crabtree, has been repeating this argument almost word-for-word since last November.

This is my favorite picture of Charlie Crabtree

This is my favorite picture of Charlie Crabtree  (on right)

In Crabtree’s latest email, he argued that, “. . . its result is that Ken Mann and Carl Weimer have never been elected by those that live in their election district. In this election large majorities of Rural and Small Town voters will NOT have a resident elected voice serving on their County Council.”

Both of these arguments comically ignore the fact that Carl Weimer lives in Ferndale and all four of the newly elected candidates drew thousands of votes from the county and small cities. Sorry Charlie, you don’t get “do-overs” with elections.

To end on a positive note, Planned Parenthood Votes is holding their lobby day on Feb. 3rd this year. Volunteers will meet with state legislators to support the Reproductive Parity Act and Family Planning Funding. The day will also include lunch and a rally with Governor Jay Inslee. To register call 360-603-7705 or fill out their form here. For $5 you get lunch, training and transportation. I’ve done it in years past and it is a ton of fun.

That’s it for today. I’m making plans for a series of in-person interviews with our state legislators and I look forward to sharing those with you.



  1. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Carl actually lives in a rural area.

    • His postal code is Ferndale, if he doesn’t live in the city limits, he lives right outside them. Close enough that the point still stands. He’s not exactly from Fairhaven.

  2. Having given this some thought, I do not think it is the worst thing about the Port that they hold their meetings in the afternoon. Bellingham and County councils hold their committee meetings in the afternoon because that is when staff is available to brief them and answer questions. Evening meetings would require calling the staff back after the end of the day and—whether this is right or wrong—I am sure there is staff resistance to that.

    More salient would be televising these meetings for the purposes of transparency and adding addt’l readings of bills so the public can duly respond. That would be a more effective reform than evening meetings.

    Biggest progressive change would be eliminating the Port’s very expensive outside counsel. No other local govt agency is served by a private practice atty. If you look at the Port’s organizational chart, you can see immediately what is wrong with the relationship of counsel to the commission and to staff.

    But, in general, I don’t think anyone who actually spoke to the man imagined Robbins would serve as a particularly dynamic and imaginative contributor to the commission.

  3. (I misspoke earlier… outside counsel does brief and advise smaller local govts. The issue is more the organizational structure of the Port that allows the commission to hold serial meetings and shield those under atty-client privilege.)

  4. I’d like to see two things ‘fer starters’. 1. Filmed meetings. Could be on vimeo/youtube or BTV10. Would like for *all* the County Council meetings to be on TV/streamed as well. At least the City has both their committee and evening meetings on for everyone to watch.
    2. Roberts Rules of Order. Unless they recently adopted them, I don’t think the Port Commission uses them. Seems basic.

    @ Tim – yeah, all of the cities except for Bellingham use private attys. I would assume it’s less expensive or they would all have a staff attorney. And everyone knows consultants from Seattle are better 😉

  5. Riley, did you ever find out if Ranker (and all our other representatives in Olympia) support moving the $110 million of toxics fund money into education? It seems like that would be a big story for environmentalists and education(ists?).

    • It’s top of the list for my next interview with him. Thank you for the reminder!

  6. Watching Mr. Crabtree complain about election results is predictable. Having presided over the worst electoral disaster in the history of the local Republican Party of course he is compelled to blame the rules. I would love to explain why he failed so miserably regardless of where the lines are drawn, but that might give helpful advice to his eventual (presumably more competent) successor.

    • Good thing we have Medic One because Charlie is going to need some medical attention for that burn Ken just handed out.

  7. Yes, it is remarkable that when outcomes skew conservative we are all bound by that outcome’s ironclad countywide authority. When outcomes are not conservative, we must consider means to limit the numbers of people who can vote.

  8. @Tim: I have never even once encountered city staff resistance to coming back in the evening. Not even heard it mentioned.

    Regarding daytime versus evening Port meetings: @Clayton: Yes, video televising, live-streaming, and on-demand video are a good answers and good compromises for many parties: it increases transparency and accountability without having to re-jigger everyone’s schedule. The County is long overdue as well. Now if only we can move public access TV forward…

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