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the road marked “good intentions” 3

A PUBLICATION OF THE FREEDOMupdate FOUNDATION report card data on washington’s high schools 8 EVERGREEN adequacy 10 1

LIVING LIBERTY

BECK OCTOBER 2009 | WWW.EFFWA.ORG

A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION

homers at Safeco

PAID

OLYMPIA, WA PERMIT #462

NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE

by Scott St. Clair

G

lenn Beck, the hottest name in cable television news and talk radio, inspired close to 6,000 fans at a gala event sponsored by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation at Seattle’s Safeco Field on September 26. In an address that ran well past its allotted time, Beck exhorted the crowd to push back against big government, high taxes, and personal irresponsibility. At times showing the emotion he’s become famous for, Beck brought the crowd to its feet several times to thunderous applause. To those who had paid anywhere from $15 to $1,000 to see him at the home of the Seattle Mariners, he hit the biggest home run of the season. The paid attendance would have been even greater had not Safeco Field officials insisted the box office be closed since the staff they’d allotted for the event couldn’t handle any more people in the stands. Beck’s speech wasn’t partisan or entirely political, but it was spirited and didn’t disappoint those who came from all over the region to see him. With an entertaining mix of heartfelt encouragement, personal remembrance of his time as a young man growing up in Washington state (the Puyallup Fair and scones came in for special recognition), and a reminder of what makes all Americans special, the shirt-sleeved communicator quipped back and forth with the crowd in a way that charmed even some hard-core liberals who happened to be in attendance. Equally rebuking Republicans and Democrats, his harshest words were reserved for President Theodore Roosevelt and his campaigns against the entrepreneurs of his day. Beck linked Arizona Senator John McCain’s domestic political philosophy to that of Teddy Roosevelt

and then contrasted them both with current president, Barack Obama. All of them were weighed in the balance and found wanting. Using the analogy of a frog in a pot of water, he said that with Obama we’ve been thrown directly into the boiling-water of so-called “progressivism”, and that we started resisting immediately. With McCain, on the other hand, it would have been gradually turning up the heat so that the necessary resistance wouldn’t have been there. Beck’s non-partisan remarks encouraged the crowd to turn away from looking to politicians of any stripe for the answers to the legitimate ills that pervade society. Instead, he said, the answers have to be found within ourselves, our neighborhoods, and our communities. Preceding Beck’s address, noted actor, author, and Korean War veteran James McEachin caught the audience off guard with a dramatic presentation of what it means to be an American and the price paid by veterans to secure freedom and liberty. Dressed in his uniform from the period that bore the stripes of a staff sergeant, McEachin roamed the field offering spectators a novel and intimate moment with an American hero who has been awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for his service during the Korean War.

Change service requested

“. . . push back against big government, high taxes, and personal irresponsibility.”

Continued on page 2


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LIVING LIBERTY

Beck Homers Continued from page 1 . . .

Bruce P. Crandall and Joe M. Jackson, were presented with EFF’s Defenders of Freedom awards.

“Quote” “We should reject big government and look inside ourselves for all the things that built this country into what it was.” – Glenn Beck

VOLUME 19, Issue 10 EFF’s mission is to advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government.

Publisher: Lynn Harsh Editors: Steven Maggi Rich Frias Layout: Joel Sorrell

Evergreen Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 (360) 956-3482 Fax (360) 352-1874 info@effwa.org • www.effwa.org

p

Also featured were special presentations to Bruce P. Crandall and Joe M. Jackson, two of the approximately 100 living recipients of the Medal of Honor (frequently referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor). Both men are residents of Washington state and earned the nation’s highest award for bravery “above and beyond the call of service” for their heroic efforts during the Vietnam War. Remarks were also made by EFF CEO Lynn Harsh, EFF co-founder and senior fellow Bob Williams, and KTTH talk radio host David Boze, himself a former EFF staff member. Glenn Beck’s nationally syndicated radio program is broadcast locally on KTTH. Rumored massive protests against the Beck appearance ended up being much ado about nothing when well

under 100 sign-waving disaffected types exercised their free speech rights across the street from the Home Plate Gate at Safeco Field. Beck poked some fun at them by reminding them, on a beautiful and sunny day, of what his Grandmother told him to tell those who should be discouraged from moving to Washington state: “It rains all the time here!” In addition to the main festivities, a private reception for Beck was held with donors just prior to the event, and the several EFF policy centers did a land-office business displaying samples of their work and offering event attendees the opportunity to discuss issues. A special ticket-holder-only book signing followed the event with Beck autographing copies of his newest best seller, Arguing with Idiots.

OCTOBER 2009

This Issue

2 3 4 6 7

FACTS, MYTHS TRADEOFFS

AND

RICHARD MOURDOCK | by Brett Davis

America’s last capitalist

Letter from lynn | by Lynn Harsh The Road marked “good intentions”

EFF RELEASES REPORT CARDS: WASHINGTON’S MIDDLE SCHOOLS AND HIGH SCHOOLS 2009

by Diana Cieslak

ALEC ANNUAL MEETING | by Bob Williams THIS MONTH ON RADIO FREE WASHINGTON . . . | by Stephanie Lund

WASHINGTON SCHOOLS SHOULD SETTLE FOR NOTHING LESS THAN EXCELLENCE by Diana Cieslak and Scott St. Clair PROPERTY OWNERS FELLED BY “EXCEPTIONAL TREES” | by Rachel Culbertson

8 10 11

INITIATIVE 1033 | by Amber Gunn FACTS, MYTHS AND TRADEOFFS

EVERYONE LOSES WHEN TEACHERS STRIKE | by Michael Reitz ADEQUACY UPDATE | by Diana Cieslak

DIARY OF A FREEDOM LOVING MOM | by Judy Parkins EVERYTHING WE LEARNED ABOUT PLEASING LIBERALS, WE LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN

PLEASE SUPPORT EFF’S “FRIEND OF THE COURT” PROJECT | by Michael Reitz

12

THE CLASSIC FERRIES THAT GOT AWAY | by Scott St. Clair

R ichard Mourdock: ’s L ast Capitalist A merica by Brett Davis

Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock  is coming to Washington to tell the story of how he and other senior creditors of Chrysler debt were strong-armed, vilified, stripped of their property rights and denied due process in a fire-sale bankruptcy proceeding that was patently illegal. Don’t miss it! The Evergreen Freedom Foundation is proud to welcome Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock to the Future of Flight Aviation Center in Everett, on Friday, November 13. Mourdock is perhaps best known for assisting several state pension funds this past summer in filing a lawsuit in federal court to delay the panicked fire

“Mourdock took a principled stand for the rights of senior creditors . . .” sale of Chrysler. Mourdock argued the sale overturned decades of U.S. bankruptcy law because it unlawfully rewarded unsecured creditors ahead of secured creditors. Although the U.S. Supreme Court eventually decided not to halt the sale of Chrysler, Mourdock took a principled stand for the rights of senior creditors and the rule of law against strong-arm government tactics. Under Continued on page 8


A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION

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LetterLET fromTER Lynn FROM LY NN by Lynn Harsh

The Road Marked “Good Intentions”

H

alf my growing up years were spent in “substandard” housing—like a garage, a tin-can trailer, and the drafty pink house. Doctors were for emergencies. Most days I didn’t eat breakfast or lunch, and not by choice. My clothes were often well-worn, ill-fitting and…well, not very clean when I was younger. And for some years, I was a principal caregiver for my brother and my sisters. Not such a good life you might think. But if we were in the same room right now, you would see my broad smile and hear me say, “Overall, things were just fine.” My parents taught me, my brother and my sisters to read, explore, ask questions and take responsibility for our decisions. We were encouraged to think about life’s big questions. We listened to music ranging from Sinatra to Tennessee Ernie Ford to Beethoven. Works from great authors were ours for the picking from homemade bookshelves. It turns out people talked about our family behind our backs—said we kids raised ourselves—said our parents deprived us of the necessities of life—said we’d be little hoodlums. Hmmm. Turns out those people were wrong. Today, there’s a pretty good chance that our family would have been “turned in” by well-meaning people—the same people whose children likely don’t know that the most important Beethoven wasn’t a dog in a Disney movie. My brother, sisters and I became decent, hardworking people. We love each other. We study issues and vote. Often we cancel each other out, but we are not slothful citizens. (I even knew what a Brown Shirt was when my Congressman recently called me that disgusting name!) So I am annoyed when “experts” declare that one of our country’s greatest deficits is children reared in poverty. Nonsense! Our greatest deficits revolve around children who grow up, for all intents and purposes, illiterate; who cannot delay personal gratification; who have never learned that character matters; who will not be able to succeed in the marketplace of ideas. Most of my generation (and the one that followed) spent our formative years in schools where we learned little about the unique American way of life we conspicuously enjoyed. In fact, too often we learned to belittle our country, reject self-governance and embrace big government. Well-rounded education about economics or our founding documents were rare indeed. Extremists, concerned about “tolerance and diversity,” undermined intellectual rigor, which in turn diminished our critical thinking and communication abilities. Character was relegated to a “religious thing to be avoided,” rather than an essential element to preserving a civil and free society. Furthermore, most of us were sheltered from facing the personal and economic consequences of our actions. We were pretty spoiled. But the majority of us now vote fairly often, though we haven’t a clue about how money is created, where

our jobs come from, or what is the proper role of government. We vote as if that knowledge isn’t important for us or the people we elect. Where were our parents while this was going on? And what did we do when our own children were getting a mediocre education or worse? Protest? Picket? Start new schools? Teach our children at home? Un-elect a bunch of second-rate politicians? Only the “radical” parents did things like that that. Most adults in this country have trusted the outspoken education “experts,” ignoring their own instincts. They have been busy making a living and comforting themselves that the bad things were going on in other schools, not the ones their children attend. So, what did we think would happen when the mediocre chickens came home to join with their tolerant kin on the diversified roost?

and not shift our responsibilities to others. Pleading “good intentions” when I had done wrong got me nothing. Early in life, that freedom allowed me to be one of those “radical” teachers and parents who engaged fiercely on behalf of their students and children. Now it allows me to work with others to help forge a new path for America. My folks, by the way, do not agree with many of my political or personal beliefs. Once when my dad asked me what happened to cause me to adopt such “conservative” points of view, I countered with, “Well, it’s your fault, Dad. You taught me to think, so I did.” May we be successful in refocusing the eyes and hearts of our countrymen past good intentions to what really matters most.

“Our greatest deficits revolve around children who grow up, for all intents and purposes, illiter ate ; who cannot delay personal gr atification; who have never learned that char acter matters ; who will not be able to succeed in the marketplace of ideas.” Honestly, this is how one of the most educated, civilized, prosperous societies in the world has become a nation populated by so many lemmings, running pellmell after smooth talkers who think they can defy gravity! And who call us vile names! Unlike some people, I do not think most elected officials want America to become a socialist country run by well-meaning bureaucrats. I think they are ignorant about the options and the consequences…and they get away with it because we re-elect them. I don’t even think my Congressman really thinks I am a Brown Shirt. And I think most educators have the best of intentions when it comes to educating kids. But we have too many Americans and their elected representatives on that well-known highway paved with good intentions. We know where that road goes. Unlike many forms of government, the American system “Unlike many forms of government, the A merican requires citizens who system requires citizens who are liter ate and selfare literate and selfgoverning. A nything less will eventually kill us.” governing. Anything less will eventually kill us. Right now, the majority of smooth talkers we have elected are already hanging liberty over the edge of the cliff. If, like me, you believe liberty is worth saving, we need to back them away from the edge, and quickly! So I owe a lot to my non-traditional, somewhat-outof-touch parents. They gave their children certain irreplaceable gifts that many of our peers missed, such as the ability to think for ourselves, ignore peer-pressure


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LIVING LIBERTY

EFF releases the Report Cards on Washington’s Middle Schools and High Schools 2009 by Diana Cieslak

A

s students returned to their desks on Sept. 9th, EFF launched its Report Cards on Washington’s Middle Schools and High Schools 2009, the first in a series of annual reports that give detailed, objective information about every public school in the state. Our goal now is to get the Report Card into the hands of every parent, policymaker, educator, and administrator in the state. Why is it so important? Because everyone needs to know what’s going on in public schools!

Report Card data on Washington’s High Schools Top 5 North I-5 Corridor

Top 5 Eastern Counties

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

Bellingham

19

8.7

8.68

Mukilteo

27

8.2

8.18

Mount Baker

Deming

44

7.7

7.3

Ferndale

Ferndale

44

7.7

6.9

Bellingham

Bellingham

44

7.7

7.76

5 yr avg

Trend

School

City

9.4

 

n/a

Sehome

8.5

8.14

Kamiak

22

8.4

8.24

Palouse

24

8.3

8.64

Asotin

30

8.1

7.12

School

City

Rank

2008

Colton Odessa

Colton

9

Odessa

21

Selkirk

Ione

Palouse Asotin

Bottom 5 North I-5 Corridor

Bottom 5 Eastern Counties

School

City

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

Scriber Lake

Lynnwood

326

3.6

2.84

4.58

Leaders In Learning

Monroe

328

3.5

 

n/a

School

City

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

Mary Walker

Springdale

296

4.3

5.84

Othello

Othello

301

4.2

Cusick

Cusick

310

4.1

 

n/a

School Home Partnership

Marysville

329

3.4

 

n/a

Wellpinit

Wellpinit

326

3.6

4.08

Darrington

Darrington

335

3.1

4.7

Educational Opportunity Center

Clarkston

345

2.4

1.96

State Street

Sedro-Woolley

337

3

2

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

1

10

9.74

Top 5 Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands

Top 5 King County

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

Kirkland

1

10

10

Mercer Island

Mercer Island

1

10

Skyline

Sammamish

1

10

International

Bellevue

1

Aviation

Des Moines

1

School

City

International Community

School

City

Bainbridge

Bainbridge Island

9.98

Orcas Island

Eastsound

8

9.7

8.74

9.44

Eagle Harbor

Bainbridge Island

16

8.9

 

n/a

10

10

Lopez

Lopez Island

24

8.3

 

n/a

10

 

n/a

Coupeville

Coupeville

30

8.1

7.34

Trend

Bottom 5 Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands

Bottom 6 King County*

School

City

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Lake Quinault

Amanda Park

329

3.4

4.28

Choice Alternative

Shelton

333

3.2

2.98

Lincoln

Port Angeles

342

2.7

 

n/a

5.04

Oakville

Oakville

354

1.2

 

n/a

3.6

Harbor

Aberdeen

355

0.9

 

n/a

 

n/a

School

City

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

School

City

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

Auburn Senior

Auburn

276

4.7

5.52

Federal Way

Federal Way

276

4.7

5.3

Auburn Riverside

Auburn

281

4.6

5.94

Highline

Burien

310

4.1

Robinswood

Bellevue

314

4

Odyssey

SeaTac

314

4

Top 5 Pierce/Thurston

Top 6 North Central Washington*

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

Gig Harbor

Gig Harbor

33

8

7.88

16

8.9

8.64

Peninsula

Gig Harbor

56

7.5

7.28

Republic

56

7.5

6.94

Olympia

Olympia

56

7.5

8.24

Curlew

107

6.8

 

n/a

Steilacoom

Steilacoom

63

7.4

6.74

Cascade

Leavenworth

122

6.7

6.36

Timberline

Lacey

63

7.4

7.06

Chelan

Chelan

131

6.6

6.78

Almira Coulee Hartline

Hartline

131

6.6

6.36

School

City

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

Tenino

Tenino

320

3.8

5.54

School

City

Liberty Bell

Winthrop

Republic Curlew

Bottom 5 North Central Washington

Bottom 5 Pierce/Thurston

School

City

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

Chief Leschi

Puyallup

335

3.1

2.6

Westside

Wenatchee

292

4.4

4.06

South Sound

Lacey

338

2.8

 

n/a

Eastmont

East Wenatchee

292

4.4

5.34

Henderson Bay Alternative

Gig Harbor

342

2.7

3.72

Oroville

Oroville

296

4.3

5.44

E B Walker

Puyallup

347

2

2.7

Waterville

Waterville

314

4

4.86

Lake Roosevelt

Coulee Dam

331

3.3

4.24

* Where more than one school share the same score, both have been listed.


A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION

People need to know that … Forty-two percent of all WASL tests taken by Washington’s middle schools students were failed. Eleven of the 421 middle schools in the Report Card scored a 10 on the zero-to-ten scale. Three schools rated under 1.0. Thirty-nine percent of tests taken by Washington’s high school students were failed. Seven of the 359 high schools rated scored a 10 on the Report Card. Five high schools rated under 1.0.

Top 5 Southwest Washington

Top 5 Seattle

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Seattle

11

9.3

8.86

Seattle

44

7.7

7.88

Roosevelt

Seattle

52

7.6

7.98

Nathan Hale

Seattle

77

7.2

7.74

Napavine

Nova

Seattle

77

7.2

7.04

Hockinson

School

City

The Center Garfield

2008

5 yr avg

1

10

9.72

9

9.4

9.12

27

8.2

7.64

Napavine

30

8.1

8

Brush Prairie

33

8

 

n/a

School

City

Cam

Battle Ground

Arts and Academics

Vancouver

Camas

Camas

Trend

Rank

Trend

Bottom 5 Southwest Washington

Bottom 5 Seattle

School

City

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

School

City

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

Cleveland

Seattle

301

4.2

3.5

Legacy

Vancouver

319

3.9

3.74

Arts & Academics Academy

Seattle

333

3.2

 

n/a

Evergreen

Vancouver

320

3.8

5.62

Interagency Academy

Seattle

338

2.8

 

n/a

Lewis and Clark

Vancouver

331

3.3

3.1

Education Service Centers

Seattle

346

2.1

 

n/a

Maple Lane

Centralia

358

0.1

 

n/a

Black River

Seattle

353

1.7

 

n/a

Green Hill Academic

Chehalis

359

0

 

n/a

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

Top 5 Spokane

Top 5 South Central Washington

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

School

City

Burbank

83

7.1

5.46

Mead

Spokane

27

8.2

7.96

Walla Walla

Walla Walla

90

7

6.68

Shadle Park

Spokane

36

7.8

7.12

East Valley

Yakima

96

6.9

6.3

Cheney

Cheney

44

7.7

7.62

Richland

Richland

107

6.8

7.2

West Valley

Spokane

56

7.5

6.46

Kamiakin

Kennewick

107

6.8

7.74

Lewis & Clark

Spokane

63

7.4

7.5

School

City

Columbia

Bottom 5 Spokane

Bottom 5 South Central Washington

School

City

Rank

5 yr avg

2008

Trend

School

City

Rank

2008

5 yr avg

Trend

Lincoln Alternative

Walla Walla

347

2

n/a

Rogers

Spokane

243

5.4

5.04

Toppenish

Toppenish

347

2

3.84

Liberty

Spangle

261

5.1

5.62

White Swan

White Swan

352

1.8

2.6

Havermale

Spokane

296

4.3

2.72

 

Pace Alternative

Wapato

355

0.9

0.82

Spokane Valley Transition

Spokane

301

4.2

 

n/a

New Horizons

Pasco

357

0.8

1.92

Barker Center

Greenacres

347

2

 

n/a

What do these scores mean? Because the rating system is standardized with the statewide average set at 6.0, a ten out of ten means no school in the state is performing any better. A zero out of ten means no school in the state is doing any worse. What now? Now it’s time to get to work—here in our office, in schools, in communities, at kitchen tables, you name it. What we’re going to do: EFF is using the Report Card as a map. We’ll be telling the stories of success, failure, improvement, and decline across the state. Check for the latest news at www.flunkedsolutions.com/washington-stateschool-report. What you can do: • The first step is to print a copy of your school’s Report Card, take it to your local administrators and school board members, and discuss their plan for school improvement.

• Visit the Report Card pages on our education portal, FlunkedSolutions.com. There you can find out more about the project, follow media coverage, read our blog, and discuss results on our discussion board. • Host a showing of Flunked in your home or local theatre! For crowds of forty or more, a member of EFF’s staff will be glad to come and host a Q&A session following the film. • Help advertise the School Report Card! Contact us at info@ effwa.org, and we’ll send you posters to hang in your schools, libraries, coffee shops, community centers, and workplaces. Get the facts. Join the solution. Reclaim the mission of public education.

www.ReportCardWa.com

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6

LIVING LIBERTY

ALEC Annual Meeting by Bob Williams

A

t the annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) I met with Daniel Hannan,  a British conservative member of the European Parliament, prior to Hannan’s speech to ALEC.  Hannan told me he was going to challenge the state legislators to remember Thomas Jefferson’s principles for our government because that is what ALEC stands for. ALEC is a nonpartisan public-private partnership of state legislators and members of the private sector. Hannan’s speech kept state legislators spellbound as he challenged them to:  • Remember the Jeffersonian principles of limited government; free markets; federalism; and individual liberty.  • Remember that the U.S. Constitution is about the freedom of the individual; the proposed European constitution is about the rights of government.  We have a Constitution based on the dispersal of power.  The proposed European constitution is a top-down model - all power is in the central government.    • Stop handing away the freedoms their forefathers fought for.  He reminded them that as state legislators they can stop the erosion of personal freedom and centralized power. • Resist centralizing power  because it leads to malfeasance, corruption and tyranny.  He reminded legislators that our founders wanted decisions to be made as close to the people as possible.  They wanted taxes to be raised by elected officials (not appointed bureaucrats) who were accountable to the people. Decision makers should be directly elected whenever possible.  • Hold fast to that which you have—the greatest country in the world, with maximum power dispersed to the people. • Resist at all cost nationalizing health care—once you have it, it is almost impossible to get rid of it. • Not to try to imitate England in the march to socialism.

THIS MONTH

On Radio Free Washington . . . We bring you the leading experts in politics, policy and entertainment! Our October guests include: by Stephanie Lund

Rabbi Daniel Lapin: Rabbi Daniel Lapin is the President of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, and is widely known among both groups as “America’s rabbi.” He is a best-selling author, Torah educator, speaker and prominent radio host.

Burt Prelutsky: Burt Prelutsky is a conservative author whose articles have appeared in the L.A. Times, New York Times, TV Guide, Modern Maturity, Emmy, Holiday, American Film, and Sports Illustrated. He has also written for several television shows, including MASH, Dragnet, Dr. Quinn and Diagnosis Murder.

James Sherk: James Sherk is a Bradley Fellow in Labor Policy at the Heritage Foundation. His primary issues are the minimum wage, union card check, rising standards of livings and other tax, labor and economic issues in Heritage’s Center for Data Analysis.

Tim Eyman: Tim Eyman is a conservative political activist in Washington state, known for using the tools of direct democracy—initiatives and referendums—to pursue the goals of tax revolt and limiting the power of the state government.

Tune in on Saturdays at 8:30 AM or Sundays at 1:30 PM on these stations:

KTRW-AM 630

KGDN-FM 101.3

KTBI-AM 810

KSPO-FM 106.5

KTAC-FM 93.9

KYAK-AM 930

(Spokane/Northern Idaho) (Spokane)

(Walla Walla/Tri-Cities) (Moses Lake)

You can also tune in on Saturdays at 12:30 PM, Sundays at 8:30 AM, and Fridays at 2:30 PM to: KTRW-AM 630 (Spokane/Northern Idaho) You can also download RFW on itunes from:

www.radiofreewa.com Hannan reminded state legislators that  President Obama  is going to borrow more money in the next two years than the total borrowing of all of his predecessors.  He said he found it very interesting that the press is making fun of the Tea Party rallies. Hannan stated that is exactly what the press did with the original Tea Party in Boston.  The press called them a bunch of radicals—a fringe element.  Hannan  gave the assembled state legislators hope that if state legislators keep their promises and recommitted themselves to Jeffersonian principles, we could regain our freedoms. He believes the solutions to America’s problems are to be found among ALEC state legislators.  He stated that the strongest defense against an out-of-control federal government is the maximum dispersal of power among the states.  If you disperse the power it will lead to more efficient, more democratic government; and a government more accountable to the people.  

If RFW does not reach a network in your area, talk to your local stations!

(Wenatchee/Moses Lake) (Yakima)


A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION

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Washington public schools should settle for nothing less than academic excellence by Diana Cieslak and Scott St. Clair

F

rom teacher strikes and court injunctions to funding lawsuits, everything is on the education table— except how well schools educate students. That information was released recently in the Report Cards on Washington’s Middle Schools and High Schools 2009 (www.ReportCardWa. com). The report was released by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation in partnership with the Fraser Institute of Vancouver, B.C. It turns Washington Assessment of Student Learning scores from the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction into report cards for 780 secondary schools. Each school report card offers annual overall ratings on a scale of zero to 10 (the statewide average is six), fiveyear trend analysis, demographic data, and a statewide ranking. What does it show? Excellence comes in all shapes and sizes—Bellevue, Nooksack, and Pateros. But so does mediocrity. In Sammamish, the median household income is $128,067. Yet for 2008, Sammamish High School scored a below-average 5.1 on the Report Card’s 0 to 10 scale.

Interlake High School in the same district, however, scored a respectable 7.5. The schools have similar demographic profiles with 25.2 percent of Sammamish students categorized as “low income,” meaning they qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Interlake has 23.8 percent low-income students. Both are nearly identical in ethnic composition. What explains the difference? Did Sammamish have a bad year? The Report Card’s five-year trend numbers offer illumination: Sammamish, which scored 7.7 in 2004, is trending down while Interlake remains steady. In southwest Washington, Summit View High School’s five-year average is 4.74. Prairie High School, in the same district, is 7.3. Both schools have similar low-income numbers: 22.1 percent at Summit View and 18.3 for Prairie. Like the two Bellevue District schools, the ethnic makeup for Summit View and Prairie are comparable. The Everett School District’s Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek has a median annual income of $85,975, yet there are signs of trouble. The 2008 Report

Card score was 5.8—down two full points from the 2004 score. The five-year score remains above average, but the trend heads in the wrong direction. Parents should find out why. Tumwater High School scored 5.2 in 2008, likewise slipping from its 2004 score of 7.2. These schools put the lie to the socio-economic excuse. There are many reasons why students don’t learn. Poverty doesn’t have to be one of them—and in the situations noted above, it obviously isn’t. These are only a few schools, but they represent alarming complacency in the way we view education. What do scores like these mean? Short-term, colleges and universities will have to offer more remedial courses, and businesses will have a hard time finding qualified employees. Long term, a less-than-stellar talent pool means the best jobs will be exported, and Washington—home to Microsoft, Amazon, and Google —will have to import leadership and ingenuity. Mediocrity gets us nowhere. But until Washington wakes up, it looks like the road for many students ends with it. While politics and strikes fill headlines, communities need to get the facts and find the answers about what really matters: educating our students!

PROPERTY RIGHTS WATCH

Property owners felled by

“exceptional trees” by Rachel Culbertson

K

ing County’s new regulations for tree removal are leaving many citizens stumped, no pun intended. Regulations controlling the removal of old or decaying trees from private property just got a lot more complicated, especially if the trees are deemed “exceptional.” On April 1, Seattle implemented an interim tree protection regulation to enforce the Tree Protection law (Seattle Municipal Code 25.11). Because there was thought to be “lack of sufficient regulations” for properties not undergoing development, the city decided it was time to add more rules. Under the new ordinance, private property owners cannot remove more than three trees exceeding six inches in diameter per year. If a tree is deemed “exceptional,” it can’t be chopped, period! What is an exceptional tree? Apparently there was enough ambiguity surrounding that question that the Seattle Director’s Rule 16-2008 was recently released to help clarify the term. According to the rule, an exceptional tree is one that is, “designated as a heritage tree by the City of Seattle … a rare or exceptional tree by virtue of its size, species, condition, cultural/ historic importance, age, and/or contribution as part of a grove of trees.”

Clear as mud, right? Don’t fear. The rule is complete with a table charting the size-thresholds for trees to be considered exceptional based on species and diameter. If a property owner needs to remove a tree because it poses a hazard, there are rigorous regulations for how that risk may be assessed. Penalties for failure to comply with these rules include fines, the requirement to restore “unlawfully damaged” areas, and even possible impris-

“If the tree is deemed ‘exceptional,’ it can’t be chopped, period!” onment for up to a year for multiple tree cuttings. The regulations have yet to please King County tree advocates. The City Council voted to require stricter tree-cutting regulations by next May. They plan to require a permit to cut down any tree on private property. Along with additional future regulations, the City Council also voted to start an Urban Forestry Commission, which would assist in making recommendations to the Mayor and City Council to further protect Seattle’s plant life.

Nevertheless, Cass Turnbull, the president of Plant Amnesty, in a Seattle Times interview called Seattle, “gutless when it comes to tree preservation.” “They’ll tell you what to do with your banana peel, but you can do whatever you want with your 200-yearold oak,” said the founder of the organization whose mission is to, “end the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs.”

“Penalties for failure to comply with these rules include fines, the requirement to restore ‘unlawfully damaged’ areas, and even possible imprisonment for up to a year for multiple tree cuttings.”


8

LIVING LIBERTY

Mourdock Continued from page 2 . . . normal bankruptcy rules, senior creditors get paid 100 cents on the dollar, and everyone else gets in line. In the Chrysler sale, the Obama administration and its political allies interfered on behalf of junior creditors (unions) and publicly demonized secured lenders who wanted their loans repaid in full. In the end, secured creditors in Chrysler got only 29 cents on the dollar for what they invested in the company. Mourdock and other senior creditors attempting to slow the sale were publicly vilified by the Obama administration, stripped of their property rights and denied due process in a record-pace bankruptcy proceeding that was patently illegal. Some senior creditors even received death threats. “As a fiduciary of public funds and as an official who has taken a solemn oath to serve, I could not not act in a circumstance when I saw our beneficiaries losing value as a result of the law being violated,” Mourdock said in testimony before the U.S. Senate in July. The Chrysler bankruptcy arrangement will negatively affect workers health and pension plans. Mourdock estimates Indiana will lose $22 million of pension fund money invested in Chrysler. Imagine if that happened here in Washington state, which is having pension problems of its own! The bottom line is Mourdock is the face of the lone effort to stop the Obama administration’s questionablyorchestrated deal for the auto giant. In 1788 James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper No. 44 that such laws “impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation.” The Freedom Foundation encourages you to turn out on Friday, November 13, to show your support of Mourdock and his efforts on behalf of bankruptcy law, the rights of secured creditors and basic fairness. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m. For more information or to RSVP, please contact Laurie McNally at 800-769-6617 or by e-mail at rsvp@effwa.org.

Initiative 1033:

Facts, Myths and Tradeoffs

T

by Amber Gunn

his November, the people will give Initiative 1033 a collective thumbs up or thumbs down. Dubbed the “Lower Property Tax Act of 2009” by initiative sponsor Tim Eyman, I-1033 would create a revenue limit for the state, counties and cities. Revenue collected over the limit would be deposited into a property reduction account and used to reduce property taxes by a proportionate amount. Government officials could access revenue collected over the limit with voter approval. I-1033 is a reaction to a legitimate problem—that of bloated state and local governments, out-of-control spending exacerbated by a recession and an increasing tax burden. If legislators had not rendered the state’s existing spending limit toothless, Eyman’s latest initiative would not exist—at least not in its current form.  The state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) estimates that I-1033 would save property owners about $8.7 billion in state and local tax payments through 2015 ($5.9 billion state, $2.8 billion local). From an equity standpoint, it is notable that though the majority of the state’s tax revenue is collected in the form of the sales tax, the rebates are not dispersed equally among the original taxpayers. Instead, it is redistributed to property owners in the form of lower property taxes, making the initiative particularly uninviting to taxpayers who don’t own property. Continued on page 9

A

c o m p l i m e n ta ry w or k s hop f or

EFF

m e m b e rs a n d f r i e n d s

Pl anning for Life November 5

S i lv e r d a l e

purpose

Topics

Responding to requests from EFF mem-

Protect assets from taxes (especially the death tax)

bers, this workshop is presented for those

Learn about Charitable Remainder Trusts

who want to know how to make plans to

Learn about Living Trusts, wills and annuities

protect hard-earned assets now as well as when the end of life comes. Perhaps you have never gotten around to doing this. Maybe you have a plan that needs a tuneup. If you are unsure that your estate plan is complete and up to date, this workshop will give you new ideas and tools that

Use your life values in estate planning Choose the right tools for your particular situation Discuss the current turbulent economy Learn where to get help

PRESENTERS

work. The presenters have been carefully selected. Each is expert in his field. And they both love liberty!

Alan W. Pratt, CEP, CAP Founder, Pratt Legacy Advisors. 30 years experience in financial services,

Please feel free to bring your attorney or

the past 17 focused on wealth preserva-

other professional family advisor. No ser-

tion through his Legacy Planning from

vices are sold at this workshop. No one will ask you to sign up for anything. The

the Heart process. Board member, The International Association of Advisors in Philanthropy.

entire day is free, including lunch. It will be a day full of great information and good conversation. We look forward to having you with us (attendance is limited to 30 people).

Please RSVP by contacting Laurie at 1-800-769-6617 by November 2, 2009.

Glenn D. Price, J.D. Price & Farrington, PLLC. Graduate of Harvard College and Duke University Law School. 30 years experience in estate, tax, retirement, business and asset protection planning. Presents “Protect Your Estate: The Nuts and Bolts of Estate Planning.”

Thursday, November 5, 2009 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Silverdale Beach Hotel Eastbay Room 3073 NW Bucklin Hill Road Silverdale, WA 98383 360-698-1000 Complimentary buffet luncheon


A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION

Yes,

I

want to invest in the

9

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Initiative 1033 Continued from page 8 . . . I-1033’s predecessor—Initiative 601—was passed by voters in 1993 as a spending limit that restricted the state’s growth rate based on a three-year average increase in inflation and population, in addition to requiring a two-thirds vote of the legislature to increase taxes. Over the years, I-601’s teeth were chipped away by legislative amendments that suspended the limit or changed the way it was calculated in order to permit higher spending.

Look for EFF’s full analysis of I-1033 online at www.effwa.org in mid-October. There are, however, some key differences between I-601 and I-1033. In some ways, the proposed initiative more closely mirrors Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). Passed by Colorado voters in 1992, TABOR is

a constitutional amendment that requires voter approval for new or increased taxes and restricts state and local revenue growth based on a one-year increase of state and population growth. Like I-1033, TABOR requires that revenue collected in excess of the limit be used to reduce the tax burden unless voters say otherwise. TABOR has been wrongfully vilified by I-1033 opponents, but that is a story for another day. I-1033 doesn’t amend or replace the I-601 spending limit; it simply adds an altogether new state revenue limit. At the state level, the new initiative exempts revenue transferred in and out of the rainy day account from the limit. This is important for creating budget sustainability and helping to smooth the impact that economic ups and downs have on the budget. A comfortable rainy day account prevents “crisis budgeting” and the predictable cries by politicians and interest groups for tax increases. However, I-1033 grants no exemption for local governments to build their reserve accounts,

which could strain local governments during economic downturns. Of course, one could argue—and Tim Eyman does— that nothing in the initiative would actually prevent local governments from building up their reserves. This is true, but the political reality is that without an explicit exemption, very few local politicians will “waste” resources by saving when they could be spending. An exemption for local governments would prompt them to save, since the money would otherwise just be returned to taxpayers. This would also protect taxpayers from crisis-budget situations that generate cries for higher taxes. There are many other differences and similarities between I-1033, I-601 and TABOR. I have only touched on a few of them here. Like almost anything in life and politics, I-1033 has trade-offs. Taxpayers will have to ask themselves whether the prescription is worth the possible side effects.


10

LIVING LIBERTY

Everyone loses when teachers strike by Michael Reitz

T

he back-to-school season … book bags, school supplies, new outfits, and teacher strikes. Yes, every year there is at least one school district facing the possibility of a strike. This year teachers in Lake Stevens, Sedro-Woolley, and Kent all voted to authorize strikes. The Kent teachers actually carried out their threat, walking out of their classrooms for four days. Teacher strikes are bad for students, bad for the community, and bad for the quality of education. Unfortunately this fails to prevent teacher union members from walking out of the classroom on an annual basis. At the most serious level, teachers set a poor example for students because strikes are illegal in Washington. Like most states, Washington law prohibits public employees from striking, and the state Supreme Court has ruled that public employees have no right to strike. Numerous teacher strikes over the years have been terminated by court order. Attorney General Rob McKenna issued a formal opinion in 2006 stating that teachers do not have the right to strike. The idea is that public employees should not be able to deprive taxpayers of essential services merely to gain a better position at the bargaining table. Not only are teacher strikes illegal, but they are bad for the community. Ask the students whose school year and graduation can be delayed. Ask the parents who must scramble at the last minute to arrange child care for chil-

dren they thought would be in school. Ask community leaders who must heal relations between school administrators and teachers that are fractured by a strike. Teachers usually vote to strike mere days before school is scheduled to open. School officials are left to negotiate hasty bargains to bring teachers back to the classroom, and these bargains can have serious consequences down the road. Unfortunately, striking at the eleventh hour is a tactic many unions use with impunity. This scenario will continue to play out year after year until unions are held accountable for inciting teachers to break the law. The year of 2009 may be a turning point in this annual charade. While school districts in years past have treated legal action as a last resort—often delaying the school

court for a compliance hearing to determine whether teachers had obeyed the order. Judge Darvas chided the teachers for their illegal strike. She noted the harm inflicted on the community and students as a result of the action. Judge Darvas also imposed contempt of court sanctions—$1,500 per day for the union and $200 per day for teachers—if teachers were not back in their classrooms on September 14. If the strike continued past that date teachers would be fined $200 for each day the strike continued. It is common for judges to threaten striking teachers with penalties, but in the last twenty years no teachers have been sanctioned because the specter of a fine always brings strikes to an end. The Kent teachers responded similarly—after bargaining all weekend the union and district announced an agreement, which the teachers ratified Monday morning, returning to their classrooms just in time to avoid a penalty. The Kent School District’s actions, while controversial, brought a speedier end to the strike. Too often parents and school administrators overlook the union’s illegal bargaining tactic in a rushed attempt to get children back into the classroom. Hopefully other districts, faced with strikes in the future, will respond as decisively as did the Kent administrators. Otherwise, the Washington Education Association will continue to use the threat of illegal strikes to win the upper hand in bargaining.

“The idea is that public employees should not be able to deprive taxpayers of essential services merely to gain a better position at the bargaining table.” year for weeks—the Kent School District wasted little time seeking a court order to bring its teachers back to school. Two days into the strike, Kent Superintendent Dr. Edward Lee Vargas announced that the district was seeking an injunction; and two days after that, King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas ordered teachers back to class. The Kent teachers voted to defy the judge’s order. On September 10, the union and the district were back in

Adequacy Update by Diana Cieslak

B

ack in January of 2007, a lawsuit was filed against the state by two sets of parents and the Network for Excellent in Washington Schools (NEWS). The claim? Washington’s schools are underfunded, violating a constitutional mandate to “make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” NEWS is a coalition of 31 school districts, the Washington Education Association (WEA), the Washington State PTA, the League of Women Voters, and other groups. On August 31st the trial in McCleary v. Washington finally began in King County Superior Court. The plaintiffs want the court to order the legislature to reaffirm the meaning of the education clause in the state Constitution, pinpoint the exact per-student cost for basic education, and create a plan to fund it. The plaintiffs plan to bring 60 witnesses to support their claims. Assistant State Attorney General Bill Clark leads the defense for the state, maintaining that it is fulfilling its responsibility. Judge John Erlick is presiding over what should be a six week trial. Much of the case hinges on the definition of educational “opportunity.” The plaintiffs claim that the state must increase school funding until they offer enough “opportunities” that it guarantees academic success. NEWS reports that Judge Erlick asked, “How do we distinguish between providing an opportunity and guaranteeing results? What are the goals? Are the goals to create the water or to get the horse to drink?”

Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Judith Billings answered, “If you have the right kind of resources, children will learn. To me, it’s more than simply the opportunity. That’s not what it’s all about.” How much might this cost? And can it be bought? If, for example, Mike Blair, Superintendent of Chimacum Schools and president of NEWS, is a subpar superintendent, how much money will he need in order to be a good superintendent? Some teachers make over $60,000, yet still fail to motivate students to learn. Do we really think that giving those teachers a raise will increase their effectiveness?

EFF’s award-winning documentary Flunked features the American Indian Public Charter School (AIPCS). AIPCS presents a challenge to the notion that effective learning opportunities must be bought. The charter school serves primarily low-income minority students on less money per pupil than the base state spending in Washington. Students don’t have state-of-the-art technology, yet many excel in high school and win scholarships to places like Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, Chief Leschi Middle School in Puyallup has a beautiful new facility but scored a 0.8 out of ten on EFF’s School Report Card. A number of schools have no shortage of funds but fall below the state’s academic bar. There are also schools, like AIPCS, that are unable to provide expensive opportunities but where students do indeed learn. Some schools are in legitimate—even desperate— need of additional funding. But parents and educators need to consider what is meant by “opportunity” and whether or not the state can be held responsible for ensuring that children have it. Even Mike Blair couldn’t answer the question of how much money was necessary to ensure that students in his own district meet the state’s academic standards. For more information including the history of adequacy in Washington state, visit effwa.org. For solutions, visit FlunkedSolutions.com.


A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION

11

diary

of a Freedom Loving Mom… by J u d y P a r k i n s

EVERYTHING WE LEARNED ABOUT PLEASING LIBERALS, WE LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN

“N

ick, will you please come take out the kitchen garbage. I want to start dinner and I need a path to the stove.” “In a minute…after I’ve beaten 12 levels, found the power rings, and fought the Master of Evil to dominate the universe.” Thanks to parenting guru Barbara Col-

oroso I answered calmly, “You may eat dinner when the garbage is taken out.” He grunted. I shoveled a path to the stove and in about an hour we all sat down to eat…all except Nick. “Hey, I’m hungry too,” he whined from the couch when he realized we had forks in our hands and he was still clutching a Nintendo controller. “You may eat dinner when the garbage is taken out,” I calmly, quietly repeated my condition for him joining us. (Unlike parenting guru Barbara Coloroso I may have gloated just a bit as I took a bite of spaghetti.) Outraged, he attacked, “But I’m starving! I haven’t eaten all day! I feel faint! I could pass out! I can’t believe

you would withhold food from your own child! You are mean. What are people going to say when they find out you don’t feed your own children? You are a child hater. You love Taylor, Lauren and Colson more than me! If you don’t let me eat you’re going to have to throw that food away. Think of the starving children in Africa.” Calmly, with total resolve, I repeated myself, “You may eat dinner when the garbage is taken out.” He glared at me. I stared back without blinking. Finally, resigned, he shrugged his shoulders, let out the ‘life is so unfair’ heavy sigh and went to take the garbage out. This exercise in staying detached, staying focused on the issue, allowing for free choice and responsibility was a break-through for me in parenting—and lately in conversing with liberals. The Tea Party movement is a true grassroots movement of citizens, many who are taking to the streets for the first time. For you I offer the following advice as you engage in the process to make your voice heard:

• Set aside those basic life lessons learned in Kindergarten—be prepared to be attacked. • The goal of expressing your opinion is not to be liked —be prepared to be attacked. • Stay focused on the issue—be prepared to be attacked. • To the best of your ability know your facts—be prepared to be attacked. • Our elected officials are ours and we can choose to change them—be prepared to be attacked. • Anytime you challenge or threaten other people’s control, their power or their money—be prepared to be attacked. Many of us love Robert Fulghum’s collection of essays, All I Really Need To Know, I Learned in Kindergarten. Let me say bluntly, those lessons do not transfer into the world of public debate. We must develop thick skins, calm demeanors and the inner commitment to never back down. The one lesson from Fulghum’s essay that Tea Party goers can hold on to is, “It is still true, no matter how old you are—when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”

Please support EFF’s “Friend of the Court” project by Michael Reitz

O

ver the last few years, EFF’s Constitutional Law Center has filed numerous amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in high-profile cases in order to advance the cause of liberty and the rule of law. We have filed briefs in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, federal Courts of Appeals, the Washington State Supreme Court, and other courts. Our goal is straightforward: assist courts by presenting information and analysis that will be relevant for making the correct decision—especially where the litigation could affect policy areas that fall within EFF’s mission. This is valuable because often the parties in a case may not argue the broader policy concerns presented in a case. “Friend of the court” briefs allow outside parties to offer additional argument to the court that otherwise might be overlooked. This has resulted in several significant victories. For example, in 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed a new Indiana law that required voters to present government-issued photo identification at the voting booth. The Indiana Democratic Party and the Indiana chapter of the ACLU sued to invalidate the law, arguing it would disenfranchise elderly, minority and poor voters. EFF attorneys filed an amicus brief, arguing that voter fraud is a serious problem in U.S. elections, and states have a compelling interest in protecting the integrity of their elections. Our brief pointed out numerous examples of voter fraud that have been discovered by national election experts, the Department of Justice, local prosecutors and journalists. In April 2008 the Supreme Court issued a 6-3 ruling that upheld Indiana’s law as consti-

“We will continue to offer accur ate and timely research in other key cases.”

tutional and affirming several of the points EFF made in our brief. This ruling has been crucial in upholding other reasonable election security measures. Closer to home, one of the state laws that has been effective in restricting higher taxes is Initiative 601, adopted in 1993. This law requires both houses of the legislature to approve tax increases by a two-thirds vote—a major annoyance for lawmakers who would prefer to raise taxes with a simple majority. During the 2008 legislative session, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) devised a way to challenge the supermajority requirement. Sen. Brown proposed a $10 million liquor tax, and while the bill passed with a simple majority, it failed to get the required two-thirds vote. The next Monday, Sen. Brown filed a lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court to declare the two-thirds requirement unconstitutional While the Attorney General’s Office defended the law, EFF and several other organizations filed amicus briefs in support. In our brief we discussed the text of the constitutional provision (Art. II, Sec. 22), and argued that a two-thirds requirement is entirely consistent. In fact, from the state’s earliest days Washingtonians have

sought to safeguard their pocketbooks from legislative invasions. The state’s founders were very suspicious of the legislature; one delegate called it a “great enemy.” A two-thirds requirement for taxes is in line with this sentiment. In March 2009 the Supreme Court unanimously rejected Sen. Brown’s lawsuit, saying it would be inappropriate for the court to step into a legislative dispute. These are only a few of the cases in which we have participated. Other cases have dealt with exposing a government entity’s secret negotiations with a private company, advocating for the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment’s protection of gun rights, arguing for the protection of the rights of property owners, and arguing for local, rather than federal, control of education policy. We will continue to offer accurate and timely research in other key cases. This project, however, is not without its costs. We ask you to please consider supporting the Constitutional Law Center. Not only will your contribution be matched by half through another donor’s generosity, but it will enable us to select high-profile cases so that liberty has an advocate in the courts.


12

LIVING LIBERTY

The classic ferries that got away by Scott St. Clair

T

he Washington State Ferry System (WSF) lost money—and the state lost a possible business and environmental-enhancement opportunity—on the sale of four scrapped Steel Electric-class ferries. WSF sold them for $200,000; yet according to state documents, the cost of keeping them around until the sale closed was over twice that amount, with $303,412 of it in insurance premiums alone. The sale came after a half-million-dollar-plus deal fell through when scrap metal prices dropped sharply. Another potential deal fell through when the prospective purchaser failed to secure adequate moorage facilities. The lashed-together Quinault and Nisqually left on August 7 and were towed through Puget Sound to Ensenada, Mexico. The Klickitat and Illahee followed a week later. The vintage and classic ferries now have a date with a welder’s torch at a recycling yard. Pulled from service on Thanksgiving eve 2007—a decision that WSF insiders, who have requested anonymity for fear of retribution, in both the fleet and the engineering office still regard as being ill-advised—the boats had been sitting around ever since doing nothing but gathering rust. Passionately regarded by crews and ferry patrons alike, the 256-foot Steel Electric boats were built in 1927 for service in the Bay Area. They were purchased and brought to Puget Sound by the Black Ball Line, which was itself purchased by Washington state in the 1950’s, becoming the foundation of Washington State Ferries. Adorned with leaded-glass windows and wood trim, the boats plied the waters of Puget Sound for decades. Most notably they were reliable ferry mainstays between Keystone Harbor on Whidbey Island and Port Townsend. Now, however, they were stripped of everything that wasn’t welded to the deck as they awaited their fate. It was an expensive wait. In addition to the insurance premiums, WSF paid nearly $15,000 in towing fees and $112,000 to conduct surveys on the level of environmentally-hazardous PCB materials on the vessels, for a total of over $430,000. It’s not as though there wasn’t a demand. The city of Port Townsend wanted to use one as a tourist attraction, or perhaps convert it into shops and restaurants. And the Washington Scuba Alliance had hopes of getting one to sink to create an artificial reef that would attract marine life and become a destination-attraction for divers. Both proposals soon ran afoul of regulatory obstacles and official indifference. According to Port Townsend City Manager David Timmons, neither the city nor the dive club even got to the point of doing a full cost/benefit analysis on purchasing a couple of the Steel Electric ferries. As far as

the city was concerned, a combination of the regulatory morass and tidal and weather conditions unique to Port Townsend created too many obstacles, he said. Port Townsend couldn’t find a place to moor one of the ferries that wasn’t subject to frequent southerly winter storms and tidal conditions. Timmons also said it would have taken one full-time employee just to chip rust. And then there were the environmental issues stemming from the Shoreline Management Act. Relying on the successful experience since 1992 of creating artificial reefs in British Columbia, where there are seven (including a Boeing 737 jet aircraft and a 441-foot World War II-era Victory ship), the Washington Scuba Alliance suggested using one to create an underwater park that would attract divers from all across the United States and the world, said Mike Racine, president of the group and a retired software entrepreneur. “There were only two uses for them: scrap metal or sunk as a dive park,” he added. Using the historic ferries to create a dive park made sense. “What a great way to give them a whole new life consistent with their maritime history.” The Alliance’s hopes were dashed, however, when they tried to convince state agencies in Olympia of the merits and economic benefits of an artificial reef. Instead of embracing the idea, Racine said, state officials lacked the vision to see the possibilities and the benefits of the artificial-reef idea. “There are few people within state government who have an entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. He did credit WSF for being open to the idea, but noted that the agency was under a legislativelymandated obligation to sell the boats. WSF, under what spokeswoman Marta Coursey called in an e-mail, “the legislative direction to sell them as first priority,” couldn’t cut their losses, get rid of one or more boats for nothing or next to nothing, and end up with less out-of-pocket costs. In her e-mail, she wrote: “It is also not a simple matter to ‘give’ the boats away… There are a number of expensive mitigation processes, serious environmental compliance issues regardless of who owns the vessels, and finally, there would be no equitable way of determining who could get one for free. Any method, including a lottery, would result in someone or some community being disappointed.” Racine’s sentiments about the difficulty dealing with the state were echoed by Howard Robins, president of the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC), an organization with almost 20 years of experience creating them in the coastal waters of western Canada.

British Columbia’s provincial government “gets it,” he said. They’re so dialed in on the biological as well as the economic benefits of artificial reefs that there are seven along the Strait of Georgia, with an eighth slated to be created sometime in the middle of 2010, Racine said. He extended an invitation to Washington state regulators to come up to British Columbia and look at the work being done to prepare the HMCS Annapolis, a decommissioned 371-foot destroyer that will be, if all goes according to plan, sunk in Howe Sound near Vancouver sometime next year. Robins said that what he called “game playing” on the part of the great number of overlapping jurisdictions in the United States gets in the way of seeing the bigger picture. “Regulators are grid-locked on the issue,” he said. In Canada, on the other hand, the 366-foot HMCS Chaudière, the first vessel that was sunk for use as an artificial reef, was purchased from the Canadian Defense Ministry for just over a dollar. A spokeswoman for the Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands office, which manages the stateowned bottom of Puget Sound, said, “We don’t advocate putting foreign objects into the water because it changes the dynamic of the marine ecosystem.” To Robins, the changes in the dynamic of the marine ecosystem are evidenced by how the sunken Boeing aircraft, which has been there since early 2006, is now home to 110 species of marine life. Efforts to contact other state officials in the Department of Fish and Wildlife for more in-depth comments were unsuccessful. Estimating the cost to prepare a boat for sinking as an artificial reef at anywhere from $500,000 to one million dollars, Racine said the funds would have had to be privately raised. But according to several experienced divers and an area dive-oriented business owner, the economic benefit to financially strapped Puget Sound communities such as Brinnon and Port Gamble, both near Hood Canal, could have been significant. Their estimates ranged from $500,000 to three million dollars a year to the community within the closest proximity to an artificial reef. Mark Peil, who works for the city of Port Townsend, has 17 years of scuba diving experience. He’s in the water every weekend, and he spends a good amount of money when he goes to artificial-reef dive parks in British Columbia. He spends it there, not in Washington state. He noted that the best local diving is in the winter, when times are tough for area tourist-industry businesses. “That’s when they need the dollars divers would bring the most,” he said. Racine estimates that he spends $1,500 for lodging, meals, and incidentals over a long weekend diving the artificial reefs in British Columbia—money that he could spend in Washington state if there was one here. Don Coleman, who operates the dive charter boat Downtime out of Pleasant Harbor on Hood Canal—the only dive charter boat in the area—said that an artificial reef would create an opportunity for another seven charter boats, and he welcomed the competition. He remarked on how using a Steel Electric ferry to create an artificial-reef dive park could have boosted the local economy without disrupting the rural nature of the community. “We desperately need economic help in this area. An artificial reef would bring a million dollars a year without having to build a strip mall or an industrial park.” ARSBC’s Robins said that his organization has had great success in Canada promoting the idea more on an environmental-benefit basis than on an economic one.


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