Washblog

Progressive Voters Guide: For those tough voting decisions

You likely have already figured out whether you are voting for President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. However, what about for the Commissioner of Public Lands? Or Initiative 1185? Judicial races? The ProgressiveVotersGuide.com by Fuse Washington can help.
The [2012] election has huge implications for our families, our communities, and our state. Our goal is to make smart, informed voting based on progressive values easier for you. We worked with Washington's leading progressive organizations to produce a Progressive Voters Guide based on their endorsements - your ticket to highly informed recommendations about the races on your ballot. The Progressive Voters Guide identifies the candidates with the most progressive track records and the ballot measure positions that will protect or promote progress in Washington.

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Must-Know Voting Rights Resources for GOTV

Below are links to resources I see as especially helpful for people doing GOTV. Most of them are from a reprint of an email that I received from the League of Women Voters of Washington this morning. I've added several links on restoration of voting rights for people with prior felonies from ACLU - and information on registration deadlines (in-person voter registration is possible through October 29 in Washington) from Washington's Secretary of State.

(6 comments, 604 words in story) Full Story

Washington State Voters' Guide is Supported by Kathleen Drew for Washington State Secretary State


I was impressed with Kathleen Drew, candidate for Washington State Secretary of State, when I met her at the Lentil Festival in Pullman a few months ago.  She had a good clear grasp of the issues affecting the Office of the Secretary of State,  including the need to more fully fund the Washington State Voters' Guide, or the Voter's pamphlet if you will.

Below is the text of the youtube video of her, compliments of Eastern Washington Voters.  

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NOVA HIGH SCHOOL HOSTS GIFTS FOR KIDS


Story by Joleen Franklin.  Photos, films, and captions by Noemie Maxwell


Free books, free hats, free stuffed animals, free fun, free clothing, school supplies, and free toys!   This is what many families took with them after they had a fun-filled day at Gifts for Kids.

NOVA High School played an essential role in making all this happen for more than 300 kids.  As one of the many social justice projects that NOVA High school engages its students and staff in, Gifts for Kids has been an event which over 100 students have had the opportunity to participate in.

 


NW Tap Connection performing at Gifts for Kids 2010

Pulse performing at Gifts for Kids 2010

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3-STRIKES REFORM GETS NEW SUPPORT IN SENATE HEARING

5236_8
L-R: Senator Adam Kline, former 3-Striker Stevan Dozier who was released under clemency, and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg speak in support of Senate Bill 5263 at a press conference prior to the hearing for the bill.  January 19, 2011.

Senate Bill 5236 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.  It would allow Washington 3-Strikers who have only Class B felonies and no weapons charges or sexual offenses to apply for parole after serving 15 years.  The current sentence for all 3-Strikers is 777 years, 77 months, and 77 days with no possibility of release.  

Over the last decade, 11 or more bills proposing to reform 3-Strikes - primarily by removing lower-seriousness crimes from the list of Most Serious Offenses - have failed due to opposition from prosecutors, crime victims, and radio talk show host John Carlson.  Carlson was a primary author of the 1993 ballot initiative that created the 3-Strikes law.

The current bill is much more narrow in scope than most previous proposals, allowing an estimated 15-20 3-Strikers to apply for conditional release under parole.  It was supported at the hearing in testimony from King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and Tom McBride of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

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Leadership Transition at Justice Works!: A Conversation with Kathya Alexander and Lea Zengage


Kathya Alexander, Justice Works! new Executive Director served as Resident Manager and later Vice President of the Board of A Woman's Place in Champaign Illinois, one of the first domestic violence shelters ever opened in the country, if not the first.  She worked directly with women as a counselor at the Eastside Domestic Violence Program in Bellevue. She was Director of Student Life of Parkland College in Illinois, which had over 10,000 students.  She served as Employment Director at The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.  She was most recently Manager of Rainier Valley Cultural Center.



L: Lea Zengage, Founder and Executive Director of Justice Works!  R: Kathya Alexander, Justice Works! new Executive Director

 

I met with Kathya Alexander and Lea Zengage at Justice Works! (JW!) headquarters and Gift and Thrift shop on Rainier Avenue in Seattle.  Kathya had just accepted the position of Executive Director of this grassroots criminal justice reform organization. Lea, after nearly a decade as Executive Director, is stepping down.  The two women will work together for several months for a smooth transition.  Lea will stay with Justice Works! as an organizer.

It's a milestone for the organization.  Lea has served without pay since JW! was founded in 2001 under the name, Justice Passage.  Kathya, a founding member of JW!, will be paid.  The shift to new leadership - and the paid staff position are signs of the organization's growth.


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I-1098 & Federal Income Tax Deduction?

Isn't it normal to deduct some portion of state income tax paid from federal income tax? If so, how much?

If I made over $200k, I'd prefer to send more of my money to Olympia, vs DC. To pay for schools, roads, and other nice stuff. Last I checked, Washington State hadn't blown one trillion dollars on any illegal wars.

When I-1098 passes, I'll save ~$200 on property taxes. Woohoo! Use this tax calculator to see how much you'll save.

(3 comments) Comments >>

LWV @ MOHAI: Will Your Vote Count?


Will Your Vote Count? A Look at 100 Years of Suffrage and How Voting is Changing Today

Thursday September 9th
7:30 to 9:00 p.m.
MOHAI Auditorium (directions)

On the 100th anniversary of woman's suffrage, what are the current challenges to our democratic processes? With Reed's push to adopt email ballot (voting via the Internet), I expect this to be a lively discussion.

Comments >>

New College Graduate on Post Prison Education Program:
"I Got Invested In"


chrisjones5
L-R: Dolphy Jordan, Ari Kohn, Chris Jones, and Pollard Fa'alogo.  Dolphy and Pollard are current PPEP students

 

I met Chris Jones as he entered Jillian's Billiards Club surrounded by family and friends.  We were there to celebrate his acceptance of an Associate of Science degree earlier that afternoon from North Seattle Community College.  

Ari Kohn, Founder of Post Prison Education Program (PPEP) introduced us and Chris led me to a table at the edge of the party to share reflections on his transition from prison with the help of that program.  A Phi Theta Kappa key glinted on his lapel as if releasing a tiny wattage of his tremendous energy.

There was in the room a sense of celebration of Chris Jones as a person, his hard-won success in moving past active addiction, the spiritual awakening in prison that had transformed his world view, his academic honors (a 3.71 grade point average in a challenging science curriculum), the honor of delivering one of the student addresses at the graduation ceremony that day, his volunteer work as a tutor to other PPEP students, and his new enrollment in the Electrical Engineering program of Washington State University.

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Sen. Ken Jacobsen, All the Best

Senator Ken Jacobsen (D-46LD) is retiring. I miss him already.

Jacobsen helped protect the integrity of our elections. He's a Hero of Democracy.

There's a nationwide push to adopt internet voting. Sam Reed (Sec of State) is totally on board. He proposed a bill last session allowing casting ballots via email (HB 2483 / SB 6238 - Concerning Overseas and Service Voters).

To his tremendous credit, Jacobsen listened to our objections. Despite my snarkiness. Despite already supporting Reed's bill. Despite Reed's cheap "men in uniform" theatrics. Jacobsen did his own research. I believe that as a result, he and other senators allowed Reed's bill to die in the Senate (after sailing thru the House, ahem).

People have said some pretty mean things about Jacobsen. I've learned that there's always more to the story.

Jacobsen has always treated me well. And this last legislative session, Jacobsen did right by me.

Tonight, the 46 LD Democrats are doing the nomination process to replace Jacobsen. I'm deeply ambivalent. With Jacobsen's departure, Democracy loses an ally. To be replaced by a wildcard.

I miss Jacobsen already.

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Two scholars agree that mass incarceration is "Massively Not OK", differ on role of race


The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander, The New Press, 2010

When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Princeton U. Press, 2009


MAlexander1 Mark A. R. Kleiman, author of When Brute Force Fails: How to have less crime and less punishment
Michelle Alexander at Rainier Valley Cultural Center, Seattle Washington, April 14, 2010 Mark A.R. Kleiman at Seattle Town Hall, April 22, 2010

Moritz College of Law professor Michelle Alexander and UCLA professor of public policy Mark A.R. Kleiman, recently made the rounds in Seattle.

Alexander, formerly Director of the Northern California ACLU Racial Justice Program, spoke with an audience of students, lawyers, civil rights leaders, and professors at the UW School of Law William H. Gates Public Interest Law Program.  The following day, she did an interview with Dave Ross on KIRO radio, spoke with correctional officers and inmates in the prison at Monroe and then, in a benefit for 3-Strikes reform, addressed a community audience at Rainier Valley Cultural Center.  Senator Adam Kline, King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, and former 3-Strikers Stevan Dozier and Vance Bartley also spoke that evening. I was one of the event organizers with the primary sponsoring organization, Justice Works!

Kleiman's visit was hosted by Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess, a former Seattle Police Department officer and detective.  Kleiman met with criminal justice and elected officials to discuss research on crime and incarceration reduction and then gave a talk at Seattle Town Hall followed by a panel discussion.  Panelists included Secretary of Washington State Department of Corrections Eldon Vail, King County Superior Court Judge Wesley Saint Clair, King County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Larson, and Washington ACLU Drug Policy Director Alison Holcomb.  

panel members at Seattle Town Hall
L-R: King County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Larson, Secretary of Washington State Department of Corrections Eldon Vail, King County Superior Court Judge Wesley Saint Clair, ACLU Drug Policy Director Alison Holcomb, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess

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Protect Secret Ballot of Military Voters

We need to push back on Sam Reed's latest assault against the integrity of our elections. His bill Concerning Overseas and Service Voters would permit casting votes via the Internet. Use Verified Voting's online form to contact your state senator and the caucus leaders.

The action alert email is below the fold. Here's the most important point:

Military and overseas voters can be served without compromising security and privacy.

Truer words have never been spoken.

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Federal Decision: WA Prison Inmates Should Get Vote

CNW_shadeeda
Al-Kareem Shadeed.  Photo by Inye Wokoma, used with permission.  ColorsNW Magazine
 Major federal court decision yesterday.

The 9th Circuit Federal court has found in Farrakhan v Gregoire that Washington's high rate of minority imprisonment cannot be explained in a race neutral way and that the right to vote must be restored to people currently in prison. 3-Striker Al-Kareem Shadeed, pictured here, is one of the plaintiffs in this case.

According to a December, 2006 Amici Curiae (friend of the court) briefing in this case, nearly one-quarter of otherwise qualified black male voters, and almost 17% of the entire adult black population of Washington state were prohibited from voting because of prior felonies.

Last session's House Bill 1517 restored the right to vote to an estimated 167,000 people in the state who were barred due to Legal Financial Obligations owed on prior felonies. This law does not address the voting rights of people who are currently incarcerated.

Washington state is less than 4% Black. The state prison population as a whole is 19.3% Black. Our 3-Strikes population is 40% Black. Other minority groups are also over-represented. (1, 2)

The Brennan Center has more information and links to the decision and other documents:

"On Jan. 5, 2010, the Ninth Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, reversed the District Court's decision on remand, claiming that Washington's constitutional provision regarding felony disenfranchisement is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. the Ninth Circuit has ruled that  Associated Press reports.

"The two appellate judges ruled that disparities in the state's justice system "cannot be explained in race-neutral ways."

  1. Persistent Offenders, Through June 2008, State of Washington, Sentencing Guidelines Commission.
  2. Offender Fact Card, Fiscal Year 2009, Washington Department of Corrections

 

     Update

  1. In September, 2010, Al Kareem Shadeed was granted conditional release from his 3-Strikes sentence of Life Without Parole after Governor Gregoire approved an earlier unanimous recommendation of Washington's Clemency and Pardons Board. Read more about his case here.
  2.  

  3. The 9th Circuit has essentially reversed its own decision in Farrakhan v. Gregoire. From Disregarding the Results: Examining the Ninth Circuits Heightened Section 2 'Intentional Discrimination' Standard in Farrakhan v. Gregoire. Ryan V. Haygood, May 2011, Columbia Law Review.

    "(I)n October 2010, the Ninth Circuit initiated its own rehearing en banc. It reversed its earlier rulings and announced a new standard imposing a nearly insurmountable 'intentional discrimination' threshold for section 2 felon disfranchisement litigation.

    "This new standard, which was used to dispose of the Farrakhan plaintiffs' claims, is inconsistent with the text, precedent, and legislative history of the Voting Rights Act. Future plaintiffs have to show 'at least':

    1. that Washington's 'criminal justice system was infected by intentional discrimination,' or
    2. that the state's 'felon disfranchisement law was enacted with such intent.'"

       

(10 comments) Comments >>

GIFTS FOR KIDS -- "A CONCEPT IN MY MIND AS I WAS LYING IN A PRISON CELL"


The second annual Gifts for Kids was held at Nova High School in Seattle on December 19, 2009.  This day-long celebration for children of incarcerated parents was founded by Vance Bartley and co-organized by Justice Works! under the direction of Lea Zengage and Nova High School under the direction of Joleen Franklin, a teacher at the school.


Vance Bartley, thanking organizers of Gifts for Kids Lea Zengage and Joleen Franklin. Click on images for larger version.
 
Chet Hunter, working with his wife Sherry, cut and styled the hair of about 40 people.

Dozens of children poured in as the event started and they continued to arrive throughout the day.  Over 180 volunteers and donors, from both inside and outside of prison, contributed to the event.  Nova students and Justice Works! volunteers were the backbone of much of the preparation for months in advance - as well as serving during the day.

Vance Bartley, who was serving a Life Without Parole sentence under Washington's 3-Strikes law when he originated the idea of Gifts for Kids, commented on those early beginnings in thanking Lea Zengage and Joleen Franklin:  "So let me just say that what began as just an idea and a concept in my mind when I was lying in a prison cell, sentenced to do the rest of my life in prison, I brought to these ladies and they made this happen." A link to a video of Vance's presentation and the response of the women honored is HERE.


Chef Young Pang prepared gourmet - and mouth- watering - sushi.  His beautiful Japanese radish and cucumber creatures attracted a lot of attention.
 
The dance group, Pulse, gave an amazing step-dance performance.

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Rest in Peace, Cherisse Luxa

Cherisse Luxa, who commented frequently on this site, has passed away from cancer.  She's second from the left here

There's a story on NW Progressive Institute Advocate and one on Daily Kos.

I took this photo at a July 2007 Service of Lamentation held by clergy to protest the planned destruction of the Lora Lake moderate-income apartments in Burien.  Cherisse was instrumental in organizing the community to try to save this housing.  From left to right in this photo: Donald Bennett, Cherisee Luxa, Representative Tina Orwall from Washington's 33rd Legislative District, Sarajane Siegfriedt.

Cherisse had incredible energy, intelligence and caring.  In the last in-depth email I exchanged with her, she told me she was working on her dissertation in the doctoral program on Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University. She was a retired sheriff's deputy -- as she put it, "a retired cop", a victims' rights advocate, and, among many other activities, worked in other countries to help identify the bodies of people who had died as victims of war crimes.  She co-founded Burien's Drinking Liberally.  

Cherisse had a keen and integrative intelligence -- noticing and remembering details that few people see (she rescued me several times from errors in my stories) -- but also thinking in a systems-oriented way -- understanding the larger patterns, the connecting dynamics.  She was truly a pleasure to talk with as well as generous with her time and thoughts and help for others.  I feel truly sad that she has passed away.  

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