EDUCATION: LOTS OF TALK, NOT MUCH ACTION 4
OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION SUSAN’S STRUGGLE 6A PUBLICATIONCITIZEN ACTION NETWORK 7
LIVING LIBERTY APRIL 2007
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
During Sunshine Week
by Jonathan Bechtle
Keep State Employee Negotiations Open
long with groups and individuals across our nation and state, we celebrated March 12–16 as “Sunshine Week 2007.” It wasn’t about pining for the missing yellow orb in our sky; it was about celebrating open and accountable government and the daily effort required to keep it. We believe it makes sense to take a week every year to review why these attributes are important and what we should do to increase our ability to remain informed about our government. The opening line of the Washington state constitution proclaims that “All political power is inherent in the people . . . .” While we the people gave some power to the three branches of government, we retained the authority to choose our leaders and oversee governmental actions. Our ability to control our government, however, is only as strong as our access to information about the activities of government. Based on this premise, Washington’s public records law was enacted with the following intent section (RCW 42.56.030): “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created. This chapter shall be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly construed to promote this public policy.” Largely due to this public records law, Washington is a model of openness for many other states. But there is still much room for improvement. During Sunshine Week, we published a series of articles about improvements that are needed, including budget transparency, election accountability, openness in labor negotiations, and the need for an independent public records advocate. We see open government as a long-term commitment, but sometimes it’s nice to see quick victories. One of the problem issues we wrote about during Sunshine Week was a bill that would prevent the public from seeing negotiating documents from labor union collective bargaining sessions. Since taxpayers are spending $500 million on these contracts, we thought the public should be able to see them. In the middle of Sunshine Week, however, the sponsor of the bill was forced to admit the bill had stalled, saying he didn’t want to “interject a cloud during Sunshine Week . . . .” To read our Sunshine Week articles, feel free to visit our website at: www.effwa.org/sunshine.
by Michael Reitz
undreds of state, county, and local employee contracts are negotiated by government entities and public employee unions. Should these union negotiations be open to taxpayers? Union officials don’t think so. Government contracts with state agency employees alone cost the state over halfa-billion dollars per biennium. Curious to see what transpired between the state and public employee unions in the 2007–2009 contract negotiations, we at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation filed a public records request for proposals, counterproposals, and bargaining notes in the state’s possession on November 30, 2006. The state was prepared to hand these documents over until several unions rushed to court to prevent disclosure. Reading the unions’ complaint, one gets the impression that unions consider taxpayer oversight to be a crisis of apocalyptic proportions. “Disclosing the information in question will fundamentally and irreparably harm the Plaintiffs’ collective bargaining relationship with the state,” says the union brief. “The information sought is of no legitimate concern to the public and not in the public interest.” No legitimate concern? Not in the public interest? That’s what they said. The personal statements of union officials and negotiators are even more dubious. T. J. Janssen, a negotiator for the Service Employees Union, said: At the bargaining table, sometimes there are heated discussions before we are able to resolve issues. I would not want my comments during these discussion [sic] exposed to the public. If I knew that my comments would be available for public review, I would not be comfortable speaking until I had carefully thought through all my comments. I might decide not to speak at all. Continued on page 11
NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE
OLYMPIA, WA PERMIT #462
Letters to the Editor Subject: NASCAR Dear EFF, We have hope that you folks will research the con game going on to locate a NASCAR Racetrack in Kitsap County and have us pay for half the cost for construction. The proposal is to establish a formal Racetrack Authority and set up the bonding to pay for half the costs. The intent is to pay off the bond indebtedness by the taxes generated by those attending the races and tax
income from supernumerary services such as motels and restaurants. There is more wishful thinking than fact. Nowhere have I seen the details—the breakdown of how the revenues will pay off the bonding and the infrastructures to accommodate the estimated 80,000 spectators. Our legislators are being hustled by eastern hucksters. If you folks have addressed this earlier, I apologize for missing it in the Living Liberty. [On a seperate note,] we appreciate the February 2007 issue and the comments about the attack on the initiative process. We sent a concern to Sherry Appleton about her bill, asking her to withdraw it. Many cheers, Owen Tripp
– WA State Senator Margarita Prentice on the union bail-out bill
VOLUME 17, Issue 4 EFF’s mission is to advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government.
Publisher: Booker Stallworth Editor: Amber Gunn Layout: Joel Sorrell
Evergreen Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 (360) 956-3482 Fax (360) 352-1874 email@example.com • www.effwa.org
Here’s how: Letters, not exceeding 250 words, must include your full name, address and telephone numbers for verification. This information will not be published. Letters become the property of Living Liberty and may be edited for clarity, brevity or grammar prior to publication. Send letters to: Living Liberty C/O Evergreen Freedom Foundation Attention: Booker Stallworth Address: PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 Fax: 360.352.1874
“Quote” “In union there’s strength, and there’s a reason why unions exist, and why they have [this] kind of power—and I think we need to do everything we can to preserve that.”
This Issue 3 4 5 6
3 Letter from lynn SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER AT THE PIT 4 JUST WHAT KIND OF A CURVE ARE THEY USING? lOTS OF TALK, NOT MUCH ACTION 5 LEGISLATORS ATTEMPT END-RUN AROUND SUPREME COURT 2007-09 BUDGET CHEAT SHEET 6 LETTERS FROM AFGHANISTAN GEORGE MARSHALL’S LEGACY SUSAN’S STRUGGLE 7 CITIZEN ACTION NETWORK 8 COSTCO ADVANCES CASE AGAINST STATE LIQUOR MONOPOLY STATE FACES 4,077-PRISON-BED SHORTFALL BY 2017
7 8 9 10 12
9 GROUP SEEKS TO PUT VOTERS IN CHARGE OF ELECTIONS ELECTION CRIMES GO UNPUNISHED AGAIN 10 FIFTY TRILLION REASONS WHY BUDGET DISCIPLINE MATTERS 12 ATTEND THE PLANNING FOR LIFE WORKSHOP ON MAY 17
A cold, cold day in the turret on a routine CONOP (convoy operation) to Gardez City...
LETTERS GEORGE MARSHALL’S LEGACY
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
LetterLETTER from Lynn FROM LY NN by Lynn Harsh
Saturday Night Fever at The Pit
t was true Saturday Night Fever last month at “The Pit,” otherwise known as McArthur Court at the University of Oregon. The air was heavy with heat and high expectations. Thousands of parents and fans of high school basketball packed nearly every seat to watch the top two 6A boys’ teams in the state vie for the championship. I was one of those fans. Parents were trading tall stories about the good old days. Basketball wannabes and used-to-bes gave unsolicited advice from the stands to the sidelines all night long. And all of us “counseled” the refs from the jump ball to the last desperation shot. The young athletes left it all out there on the floor that night. On opposing ends of the gym, the high school bands competed with each other as fiercely as the players on the court. The mood was electric even outside the Court as a friend and I walked across the University of Oregon campus to get some exercise and find a cup of coffee before the final playoff game. But something was nagging me. We walked by the old graveyard I had run through at midnight as a teenager many years ago. Twenty dollars had been at stake. It appears to be little more than Lovers’ Lane for raccoons now. We passed the backside of the track where, three decades earlier, I had watched the legendary Steve Prefontaine run lightning fast laps. Then, Lawrence Hall, where I spent some hours with a young architecture student who had asked me to marry him. Ahhh…and Erb Memorial Union. It seemed just yesterday I was sitting at a table at the Union reviewing my SAT results, wondering how my high GPA could possibly translate into such lousy math scores. At 17, my math deficiency had cost me dearly. In those days, most good colleges wouldn’t let you in if you were not academically prepared, unless you were somebody famous. I was not, and it was music, not math, that had kept me in high school. A prestigious music scholarship came my way that allowed several administrators at the high school to ignore my plummeting math scores. But I didn’t want to study music, and it turned out that my preferred choice was undoable because of math illiteracy. It was a sobering realization. Thankfully, during my formative years, I had great teachers who didn’t make allowances for slothfulness. They didn’t let me slide by with much of anything, until junior high. That early training gave me the capacity to discipline myself during the summer after high school, where, on my own, I learned basic algebra and geometry. It still wasn’t enough, but my opportunities expanded.
What would have happened had I not learned self-discipline and the rudiments of math during my elementary school years? What if the U. of O. had not forced me to face the consequences of my earlier unwise decision to mentally skip advanced math? Of course, it would have been better if my high school teachers had put my nose up against the wall of reality, but better late than never. In jumbled form, those thoughts were racing through my brain as I walked back into the noisy gym to find my seat. The locus of my discomfort, in the midst of the adrenalin-induced wild celebration around me, was the thousands of academically and personally unprepared students who filled that gym. Most will apply for college, and the majority will need remedial level assistance in math and English. But most of the applicants will be accepted anyway. At what point will they realize the level of their unpreparedness to face global competitors in the world of work? Who will face the consequences of so many students poorly prepared in academics, and sometimes character, too? Students? Parents? Educators? Where will the buck stop? Unpreparedness of the magnitude we are facing today will have profound consequences on our nation’s economy and the ability of our citizens to self-govern. It’s highly unlikely that anyone else in that gym was mulling over the same thing, and frankly, I wished I weren’t. It was a basketball game, after all! Still, I wondered how many of the parents in that gym would have to say they have been far more involved with their children’s sports than their academics or character development. A zone defense is easier to understand than the eight parts of speech, or why any of the parts are important to begin with. It’s easy to leave the education stuff up to the “experts” and hope our kids are getting what they need when we send them to school. But they are not. When it comes to education, most people are really supporting and protecting memories—memories of an institution that served us well for many years—an institution where many of us formed deep friendships and participated in numerous social activities. We were introduced to an instrument or a sport in school. Maybe we learned to paint, play chess or sing there. It may have been where we ate breakfast and lunch, and got our first eye exam. It’s where we joined with others to play on a team or cheer for one. Except…none of those things is the essential reason we have “institutions of learning.” In the rush to make our schools into one-stop centers for everything a child might need, academics are lagging behind.
Coming Soon... Out of the Box Out of the Box: Innovations in Education is a multi-media production of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. Through film, radio and print, Out of the Box will highlight outstanding programs in education that are getting great results using innovative methods to bring out the best in our kids. For More information, email Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is what happens in a heavily-protected, bureaucratic monopoly. Excellence succumbs to the mediocre. Student academic expectations and the corresponding curriculum loses rigor and relevance. The prerequisites for becoming an outstanding teacher relate more to process and programs than proven academic results with diverse learners. The energy and vision of our best teachers and administrators is sapped and often undermined. Resources are improperly allocated. The system itself becomes expensive and inefficient, with regulations for every conceivable activity. Offerings are more milquetoast. Students are restless, selfcentered and often disruptive. As confidence wanes, multiple new tests are created and administered in an attempt to satisfy the brooding parents and employers. This makes little sense in a country whose greatness is built on self-governance and education opportunity for all. Since education is a mission and not an institution, can we agree that it matters little where it happens, only that it does happen? Doubtless, if left to our own concoctions, we would still have institutions of some kind where we and many of our neighbors would work with outstanding educators to craft the best learning opportunities possible for our children. But they would be mostly deregulated, free to attract the best teachers, and highly customized toward addressing specific student needs. My ideal would certainly include music and basketball tournaments…and math. But the structure itself would be lean and student-focused. But, on that day at the gym, I was surrounded by parents whose countenances glowed with school pride— parents who would have voted for any school levy placed in front of them, regardless of the deliverables. I wondered what it would take for those same parents to risk making changes for the majority of students who will not get a basketball scholarship, and who will not be ready for college or the world of work and life. Few parents and taxpayers willingly sell out a child’s future. Once the protective bubble around our current government-run education system bursts, numerous new opportunities will immediately be available. I have a few giant, sharp pins good for bursting bubbles. So do some of you, and together we send chills up the spines of education bureaucrats. They are fending us off for now, but not for long. Keep your pins sharp!
Just what kind of a curve are they using? by Steven Maggi
ou read about it in the news every day. Washington schools are in a “crisis,” say the state’s educational leaders, which is why they say they desperately need an additional $3.45 billion dollars to bring the state closer to an “adequately funded” public education system. Nonetheless, the United States Chamber of Commerce has given Washington’s education system an “A” grade in academic achievement. Really. In fact, Washington’s lowest grade was a “C” in the category of postsecondary and workforce readiness. Isn’t this ironic? On the one hand, we have an “excellent” academic program, and yet we are merely average at producing success in the workforce and in post graduate studies. How can that be? Only 56 percent of 10th graders have passed the math portion of the WASL exit exam, which is required for high school graduation. Plans now call for a three-year delay in the graduation requirements. If nothing is done, a year from now we could see thousands and thousands of Washington teens without diplomas. Along with these dismal statistics, the education bureaucracy also just commissioned an “independent report” that calls for a 45 percent increase over the current spending, bringing the education outlay to $11.2 billion a year. State education leaders are busy patting themselves on the back for the “A” grade, all the while reminding us that they still need extra funding. However, not everyone agrees with the Chamber’s assessment. Over the past three years, expert reviewers for the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation examined each state’s standards in five subjects. The state of Washington received the following grades: English Math Science U.S. History World History
(F) (F) (C) (F) (D)
Finally, according to the DepartThis adds up to a “D-“ average. The average grade for ment of Corrections, as of October state standards across all subjects is “C-.” According to Fordham, Washington’s English stan- 31, 2005, only 18 percent of offenddards are “difficult to read, suffer from confusing ers had verified high school diplomas organizational structure, and contain sentiments that and 47 percent had General Educacan only be described as odd.” Math fared no better: tion Development (GED) certificates. “Standards are poorly written, unclear, and needlessly About 71 percent of male offenders long, often having little apparent connection to math,” and 83 percent of female offenders score at less than the ninth-grade level. according to Fordham. In 2002, when former Governor Gary Locke asked How could the U.S. Chamber see things so much differently than the Fordham Foundation? A lot of these agencies to clearly identify their goals and prioritize report cards are subjective, but the facts speak clearly their activities based on how to achieve those goals most effectively, Washington’s Office of the Superintendent when it comes to our education system’s “success.” According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Founda- of Public Instruction (OSPI) refused to participate. In tion, over one-fourth of Washington students drop out 2004, OSPI did participate, but not meaningfully. In that between the ninth and twelfth grades. One-third gradu- year’s budget request, OSPI identified just one “expected ate and are not prepared for the work force. The remain- result” for approximately $9 billion in expenditures. der graduate and either go on to college or the work That result? That by 2007, Washington schools would force, but of those who go to community college, more “develop and implement an improved K-12 education funding model….” than half need a remeThe entire focus is on money. dial course in reading, Everyone agrees that it costs writing, or math. “According to the Bill and Melinda Gates money to provide a quality Only 51.8 percent Foundation, over one-fourth of Washington education. But how we spend of the tenth graders students drop out between the ninth and that money is just as important tested in 2005–2006 met WASL standards twelfth grades. One-third graduate and are as how much. One billion dollars spent efficiently and effecin all three content not prepared for the work force.” tively on programs that work areas (reading, writis of far more value to students ing, and math). Stuthan two billion dollars spent dents in the class of 2008 who do not meet WASL standards in reading and poorly. More money will not solve our education crisis. The focus should be on academic success, with clear writing will not be able to graduate from high school. In the early 1990s, Washington’s education leaders, and measurable outcome goals. Do we want Washington as part of the Goals 2000 program, said our students schools to be accountable for ensuring student literacy, would be first in the world in math and science by 2000. or for spending money? The next time a “report card” Well, they are not, and we have fallen farther behind the comes, we’d like to see those measurable outcomes used as the criteria for success. world.
Lots of talk, not much action by Steven Maggi
nyone that has followed Washington State politics this year knows that the buzzword around town is “education.” Everybody is for it. Some want to increase funding to over $11 billion dollars, a 45 percent increase over Governor Gregoire’s budget proposal. Others want to keep or change (depending on their view) WASL requirements for graduation. Regardless of party, everyone wants to fix education. When we look at what was actually accomplished, however, nothing of any real significance was passed. Quite often, not doing anything is preferable to proposed legislation. The case of the super-majority requirement for school levy elections is a perfect example. Through the first two months of the year, we were told that this would be the year that the legislature was finally going to get rid of this old and “out of touch” law that requires a 60 percent majority to pass any school levy. This bill was originally written to protect property owners, who pay for these levies through their taxes. Some were against changing the constitution to a simple majority unless it was agreed that these elections were held in November, when the greatest number of voters participate in elections. Proponents of the bill would probably have passed it if the legislature had added the November stipulation, but it refused. So the 60 percent requirement remains. A number of education-related bills did easily pass. They call for all-day kindergarten in low-income districts, smaller class sizes in grades K-3, and a coaching pilot project to help teachers with math and science. Nothing drastic. Instead, a few simple efforts were passed. Legislators were able to report back to constituents that “we addressed education.”
One other bill (passed by a 40-8 vote in the Senate) will give teachers a $5,000 bonus when they obtain national board certification. Senator Rodney Tom, DMedina, said “the importance of this bill is really about putting great teachers into every single classroom.” The way to attract and retain excellent teachers, however, is to pay them based on their classroom’s academic achievements. Those teachers that make major strides in their classes should be well-compensated, while teachers that fail should look for another line of work. The current system of paying according to a chart that only measures years served and college degrees earned is not working. Let’s be honest. The current system hasn’t been succeeding for a while. We know this because we go through the “education reform” process decade after decade. It’s the same old story: • Complain about test scores, broken-down facilities, lack of progress in meeting the standards for tomorrow’s workplace. • Put together a group of “educational experts,” who spend several months together devising an “innovative plan.” This plan, usually with a catchy title like “Washington Learns” or “Goals 2000,” promises to correct all ills and make our state a worldwide leader in education, particularly in math and science. The plan also makes sure funding is significantly increased. • The plan is distributed, the press comments, and it is implemented. • After a few years, the same process starts again.
Let’s face it: real improvement in Washington schools requires real reform. Real reform requires thinking about public education in a whole new light. EFF’s suggestions include: • Deregulation of schools to basic health, safety, and civil rights standards. • Mandate that 90 percent or more of allocated education dollars follow each student to the school chosen by parents. • Change teacher licensing requirements. An adult with a degree in a necessary field (English, history, computer science, business, etc.) who does not have a criminal record and who has demonstrated the ability to teach students, should be able to do so in Washington state public schools. • Prohibit mandatory unionization of schools. • Redefine core academic standards and mandate scientifically valid and reliable testing. • Require annual academic and fiscal performance audits of each school. • Allow flexibility in the teacher salary allocation model and abolish tenure.
True reform doesn’t come in one sweeping action, but implementation of real reforms should be supported when they are presented. As parents realize the world of education doesn’t have to be an archaic system with one school available for their child based only on geographic location, they will want reform. They will demand it. Eventually, they will get it.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Legislators attempt end-run around Supreme Court by Michael Reitz
awmakers in the state House recently passed a bill that circumvents a pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling, thwarts the will of the people, and violates the First Amendment rights of teachers—quite a devastating effect for a one-page piece of legislation. House Bill 2079 concerns the use of union dues for political activity. While no one can be forced to join a union, unions are permitted to charge nonmembers for their services. State law requires unions to get permission from individual nonmembers before using
for protecting the First Amendment rights of workers, and a ruling is expected soon. Anticipating an adverse ruling, the Washington Education Association has returned to Olympia and is attempting to play its trump card. The union drafted legislation that guts the law and prevailed upon lawmakers—all of whom have received union contributions—to introduce the proposal. This legislation presents several concerns. First of all, the bill is premature. By rushing to amend the law
Retired Vancouver Teacher Ed Dawson, Puyallup Teacher Grant Pelesky, and Orange County Teacher Diane Lenning hold signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court on January 10.
their payments for political activity. HB 2079 is a shameless attempt to gut this law. The law was the subject of the case against the Washington Education Association (WEA) we recently took to the U.S. Supreme Court. The WEA, the state’s largest teachers union, was fined nearly $600,000 in 2001 for intentionally violating the law. After years of appeals, the case eventually came before the U.S. Supreme Court on January 10, 2007. It was apparent the Justices thought the law was a reasonable mechanism
before the Supreme Court rules on its constitutionality, lawmakers give the impression of attempting to mitigate a ruling against the union. Any amendment of the law should come after the Court has resolved the constitutional question. HB 2079 uses an accounting gimmick to get around the requirement to ask permission of nonmembers. The bill violates common-sense accounting practices and labor law by arbitrarily stating that nonmember payments are the last dollars spent from a union’s
general treasury. If, for example, nonmember fees comprise about 10 percent of a union’s funds, the legislation would permit a union to use up to 90 percent of its funds on political activity without obtaining permission from individuals. Furthermore, HB 2079 itself may be unconstitutional, as the Attorney General’s Office warned in a public hearing. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the accounting mechanism used in HB 2079 in the case of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Claiming that nonmember fees go only to collective bargaining is a “fact of bookkeeping significance only rather than a matter of real substance,” said the Court. This gimmick shifts a disproportionate share of collective bargaining costs to nonmembers, causing them to subsidize the union’s political activities involuntarily. The appropriate remedy embraced in all landmark Supreme Court cases on union fees is to reduce the fees paid by nonmembers and return the portion of their dues that would have gone to objectionable purposes. HB 2079 completely ignores this constitutional guidance. The WEA claims HB 2079 will help clarify the law and make compliance easier. Relying on the union to define compliance is like asking Enron to write good accounting procedures or having Bobby Knight teach an anger management course. This legislative tinkering is simply unnecessary. After the WEA was convicted of violating the law, the Thurston County Superior Court issued four pages of detailed instructions on how to comply. Amazingly, the sponsors of HB 2079 attached an emergency clause to the bill, which allows the legislation to take effect immediately, while insulating it from a people’s referendum. Emergency clauses are an important tool in the legislature’s arsenal, but bailing out one’s union friends from legal penalties is not a true emergency. This bill demonstrates an appalling contempt for the free speech rights of teachers and other workers. The union claims the law is “murky,” when actually any firstgrader could understand it: You must get permission first before taking something that doesn’t belong to you.
2007-09 budget cheat sheet by Jason Mercier
y the time you read this, it is likely that both the House and Senate will have already adopted their version of the state’s 200709 budget. Whether or not lawmakers will have actually read the budget prior to voting on it, however, is another question. Even though these budget votes will have already occurred, you still have time to impact the final budget vote and the fiscal obligations state officials are hoping to commit taxpayers to. With that in mind, here are some things to look for:
Are the proposals truly balanced or do they commit taxpayers to unsustainable spending and the prospect of future tax increases?
The state’s forecasted revenue for the 2007-09 biennium is $29.5 billion. This means that for the budget to be sustainable, general fund expenditures must be within this forecasted revenue.
Does the budget protect taxpayers against a downturn in the economy?
A minimum five percent emergency reserve is necessary to avoid possible tax increases when the state hits the downside of the business cycle. Assuming a budget that spends all of the revenue forecast, this means a minimum protected rainy-day fund of $1.5 billion.
Did lawmakers take advantage of the large revenue increase to address essential one-time expenditures such as previously skipped pension payments and addressing the Department of Corrections’ lack of prisoner capacity?
Assuming the budget’s growth was based on the average increase since the passage of I-601 (taxpayer protection act) of eight percent, there would be enough
revenue available to address these one-time expenses and provide tax relief without imperiling the budget’s sustainability.
Are the proposals based on the Priorities of Government (POG) process or are they simply a laundry list of ways to spend tax dollars?
POG requires budgeters to prioritize all potential spending while determining which purchase strategies have the biggest impact on delivering expected performance outcomes. This process creates a government “buy-list” for state purchases based on quantifiable performance measures. If the answer to these questions is yes, lawmakers will have succeeded in putting together an accountable, sustainable, and prioritized spending plan. If no, it is up to you to let your state officials know that if they don’t fix the final budget prior to adoption, it will be seen as nothing short of a failure—one that will be remembered come November 2008.
George Marshall’s Legacy
by Matt Cole ABOVE: A view through my night vision goggles while staging for our operation.
RIGHT: With kids near Zormat District. I taught them all how to “high five”.
ur convoy rolled out nearly half past midnight— late. Our mission would take us well into the next day, and I had worked the whole day before that. As tired as I would be, my body has adapted to the long, abnormal hours that life in a combat zone demands. We drove around the twin hills that separate our post from the post of the 82nd Airborne Division. There we met up with a company-plus along with our battalion sized element of Afghan National Army (ANA) troops and the cadre of Embedded Training Teams (ETTs) that I was a part of. All told, there were nearly 300 troops staging for an operation in the Zormat District. Zormat is a volatile place. It has been since U.S. forces arrived here over five years ago. It’s no secret that Taliban
reside in the surrounding villages and still operate there. to surround the objective. Another platoon moves off to the south to set up a mortar position and the 82 nd moves Finding them is the hard part. Afghanistan, despite its plagues of poverty and up to support the ANA. I was with the command group and we would move another click forward war, really is a beautiful country. to set up our command and control (C2) The mountains stretch high above the center. horizon and the open landscape blankets “With any luck, we From here on out it was a waiting the countryside in a haunting beauty. would return to base game—waiting for all elements to get into National Geographic wasn’t kidding. place, waiting to be spotted, waiting for with at least one, Even at night, the view is enjoyable – the moon illuminates the sky which casts a possibly more, high- contact, waiting for it all to begin. It was as if a Broadway musical was about to deep blue silhouette of the mountains. value targets”. start. Lights dim and everyone with their Several hours later, and after getting respective roles, ready to play their part. lost twice, we arrive at the staging area. At H-hour the ANA mortar team launched It’s alongside a field bordered by qalats roughly four clicks away from our objective point. a series of illumination rounds over the objective. As the There we break off. The ANA and ETTs move forward streams of light slid down the night sky, troops moved Continued on page 10
Susan’s Struggle by Kristen Mercier
or Susan Wiggs, teaching was the “family busiVEA Executive Director Roy Maier refused, say- teachers, one would assume they would be particularly ness.” Her mother was her eighth-grade math ing the organization is “not acceptable” to the VEA. concerned with the enslavement of children. teacher, and Susan found herself interested in education Although Susan provided the union with documentation One reason for the union’s vehement refusal to divert as well. “I enjoy helping students gain skills they will of Shared Hope’s nonprofit, nonsectarian status, it has Susan’s dues to Shared Hope could be the organization’s need to be successful citizens,” she said. She has been continued to block her from sending her union dues to ties to former Congresswoman Linda Smith, who condoing just that for thirty-two years. Shared Hope. sistently fought for worker freedom and union accountSusan discovered guidelines the VEA had previously ability. However, Susan often found herself at odds with the teacher union’s positions and pracSusan contacted EFF, who tices. “I first became aware I could obtained legal representation for her hearings before the resign from the union as a religious objector when the Vancouver EduPublic Employment Relations Commission. Her case against cation Association (VEA) sent a “To know that letter in 2004 informing their memthe VEA was first heard before many people bers that religious exemptions are the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) on offered to persons whose religious believe in the stand beliefs conflict with the beliefs of February 26, 2007, in Olympia. I have taken for Throughout the process, the the union.” Since then, Susan has been VEA had never told Susan why individual freeattempting to divert her union dues it did not agree to her choice dom of choice in of charities. During the Febto a charity that fights sex trafficking. Under state and federal law, ruary hearing, however, VEA the face of a union Executive Director Roy Maier teachers and other workers can opt power play has out of union membership by claimtestified that he recommended ing religious exemption and can the VEA Executive Board not been very imporapprove Shared Hope Intersend their union dues to a charitatant to me.” ble organization. But the VEA has national because he thought Susan Wiggs enters a PERC hearing on Wednesday, March 21. its IRS form 990’s indicated refused to send Susan’s dues to the charity of her choice. it spent 76 percent of its budWhile the VEA agrees that she qualifies for religious agreed to follow as a result of litigation with a different get on administrative costs and 24 percent on program objector status, it has refused to accommodate her char- religious objector. The guidelines stated, “The goal is to expenses. He continued that if Shared Hope had had a ity selection. Susan would like her dues to go to Shared respect the objector’s choice of charities, so long as the ratio closer to the usual standard (25 percent administrative and 75 percent program expenses), he would have Hope International (www.sharedhope.org), which, designated recipient is lawful and charitable.” It is unclear why the VEA has such a strong objection suggested that the charity be approved. according to its website, works “to prevent and eradicate sex trafficking and slavery through education and to an organization that works to help in the sex trafficking of women and children. As an organization of Continued on page 9 public awareness.”
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Trent England CAN DIRECTOR
Juliana McMahan CAN DEPUTY DIRECTOR
Citizen Action Network
E F F
T a k es
hey are out there. You know they are. They are in your community, among your neighbors, perhaps even in your own family—people who value freedom, yet do nothing to defend it. For some of them, freedom is an abstraction, something academic and perhaps confusing. Many, like Moses, hear the call but are reluctant to step out of their comfort zone and into the arena. Others have been convinced by the leviathan state (or the leviathan media) that resistance is futile. Whatever the reason, their ranks are growing. Just as empowered and engaged citizens are poisonous to tyranny, they are the very lifeblood of liberty. Daniel Webster said, “God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.” Uninformed and disinterested people reduce selfgovernment to an illusion—an opiate for the masses, Karl Marx might say. Here at EFF, we recognize that the most cutting research and poignant policy analysis are of little use if government is not run by, and accountable to, the people. This is why we have launched the Citizen Action Network (CAN). The mission statement of CAN explains: The Citizen Action Network exists to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government. To these ends, the Citizen Action Network will educate, equip, and empower regional groups of Washingtonians to guard their rights and fulfill their duties as citizens in a free society. The first sentence mirrors EFF’s own mission statement. CAN will be a dramatic force multiplier for all the policy work done by EFF’s outstanding researchers and analysts. To do this, CAN will bring together Washington’s freedom-minded citizens and provide them with the resources they need to be effective citizen activists. To establish a firm foundation for our activism, we are developing an introductory course on the “First Principles of Freedom.” So often, in the frantic world of politics, we charge forward only to discover in the heat of battle that our forces are working from different codebooks and looking at different maps. Through the First Principles of Freedom, CAN members will have the opportunity to step back and consider the very meaning of freedom. We will examine the proper roles of law and government, looking at how those forces can either serve the cause of freedom or become its greatest enemies. Building on the First Principles of Freedom, CAN will provide members with opportunities for many kinds of training. Some of these will address particular issues. Others will continue the discussion of fundamental ideas. Many programs will provide strategic and tactical training directly relevant to citizen activism.
A ctivis m
t h e
Taking advantage of the great talent assembled at EFF as well as other pro-freedom organizations, we will offer training in areas such as public speaking, holding a town meeting, working with the media, and conducting policy and opposition research. These courses will aim to equip activists with the skills needed to be effective advocates for freedom. CAN will organize by regions, beginning with five areas and eventually blanketing Washington state. The initial regions are Clark, Kitsap, Snohomish, and Spokane Counties and the East King County area. When
N e x t
L evel | by Trent England
we launch the CAN website later this year, we will offer all CAN members an “activist tool box” full of helpful materials to facilitate freedom’s advance. Gen. Douglas MacArthur said, “No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.” We at EFF heed General MacArthur’s words. Through CAN, we will organize the forces of freedom so that we can be vigilant in its preservation and thereby truly make a difference in our communities, our state, and our nation.
“CAN will be a dramatic force multiplier for all the policy work done by EFF’s outstanding researchers and analysts. To do this, CAN will bring together Washington’s freedom-minded citizens and provide them with the resources they need to be effective citizen activists.”
Trent England, director of the
Citizen Action Network, is a former legislative candidate, policy analyst, and issue lobbyist. He grew up in Gig Harbor, Washington, where he became a pro-freedom activist while still in high school. Trent earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, where he also edited a campus political magazine. While still in college, Trent spent six months working in opposition research at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, progressing to the level of senior analyst. Leadership Institute president Morton Blackwell, then also the executive director of the Council for National Policy, recruited Trent to serve as vice president of the Council’s issue lobbying affiliate, CNP Action, Inc. After three years with the Council, Trent was hired by former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese as a legal policy analyst in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. In that capacity, Trent wrote opinion columns published in newspapers across the country and contributed to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, the only clause-by-clause explication of the U.S. Constitution from an originalist perspective. Trent earned his
Juris Doctorate degree from George Mason University School of Law. Trent returned home to run for a position in the Washington State House of Representatives in 2006. After his campaign, Trent was a visiting legal fellow with The Heritage Foundation before being hired by EFF to run the Citizen Action Network.
Juliana McMahan, deputy director of the Citizen Action Network, has been with the Evergreen Freedom Foundation for over 11 years. She began as a volunteer and was quickly hired to help run the small office. Since then she has held several positions including executive administrator and, most recently, donor relations director. She brings a wide range of skills and a lot of passion to her position with the Citizen Action Network. Juliana grew up in Olalla, Washington, where she became involved in politics at an early age. She helped run a successful campaign to defeat the leader of the House Democrat Caucus in 1994 and then served in Olympia for a conservative legislator. She continues to be very active in her local community and serves on several local and state boards.
Costco advances case against state liquor monopoly by Amber Gunn
he retailer giant Costco has asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold last year’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman that could eradicate the state’s liquor monopoly. Pechman’s ruling struck down various state regulations that she said were in violation of federal antitrust law, including the state’s mandatory 10 percent mark up on alcohol by both distributors and producers, the requirement that beer and wine distributors post and hold prices for 30 days, and the state’s ban on central warehousing, high-volume discounts, and credit sales to retailers. A ruling is not expected for six months, and either side might appeal to the Supreme Court. If Costco wins, the ruling could call into question the regulatory schemes in other states. Predictably, at least 30 states or other jurisdictions have filed briefs in favor of Washington. The state Liquor Control Board (LCB) has argued that the Twenty-First Amendment gave states the right
to control liquor distribution within their borders. The LCB has argued that the state’s regulations serve three purposes: the promotion of temperance, the maintenance of an orderly market, and the collection of taxes. “Temperance” was loosely defined by the state to mean self-control, which is somewhat of an amusing argument considering the parallel definition would be “selfregulated,” meaning boundaries and rules come from within, rather than being imposed by outside force. The state argues that Washington’s ban on large volume discounts, credit sales, and central warehousing served to drive up prices artificially and curtail the likelihood of over-consumption. Rather than imposing some kind of moral boundaries, government involvement in alcohol distribution leads to higher prices, middle men, and mandatory mark-ups— not to mention meddling with individual choice. Monopolies stifle innovation and competition. Washington’s liquor monopoly is no exception. Deregulation
State Faces 4,077 Prison-Bed Shortfall by 2017 What are your legislators doing about it? by Amber Gunn
rotecting the public from crime is one of the government’s most important responsibilities. Recently, the Department of Corrections (DOC) has been called to account for felons released early from prison or county jails due to overcrowding. In the last four years, 122 felons were convicted of violent crimes—including murder, child rape, armed robbery, and assault—after they were released early by the DOC. The department defended the policy as necessary to make room for higher-risk offenders. Washington’s prison population has grown from 7,009 in 1986 to 17,973 in 2006. The DOC claims there is simply not enough room in state prisons and county jails to confine everyone who violates their community-release conditions. Guarding public health and safety is a core function of government. The coercive force of government was created specifically to protect against coercive force by others. Yet our state government is failing in this basic directive. When government fails to prioritize, citizens are put at risk. Our state’s overcrowding problems are only expected to worsen in the next ten years. Releasing criminals is not the answer. Legislators must act now to solve the capacity problem. DOC facilities are at 105 percent capacity already. The demand for prison beds in 2006 exceeded supply by about 1,600 beds. The state rents nearly 1,000 outof-state beds and contracts with county jails to make up the difference. The DOC is adding about 2,500 beds to two existing prisons to alleviate the problem. However, even with the expansions, our state faces a 4,000-bed shortfall by 2017. This figure does not include community correction violators.
will encourage competition, which will in turn lower prices for consumers and create a greater demand for high quality products, benefiting both large and small businesses. Costco’s suit seeks to overturn Washington’s antiquated liquor laws and level the playing field for all state retailers. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have privatized liquor sales and limited government to managing sales licenses and any associated taxes. Washington is one of only eighteen states that directly control the distribution and sale of alcohol. Consumer choice should not be dictated by an antiquated state monopoly. It’s time this state’s liquor monopoly dried up.
sex offender treatment will reduce demand for prison beds. The recidivism rate, the number of offenders who commit new crimes after being released from prison, is a disappointing 37 percent—and climbing. The DOC and the governor are funneling money into rehabilitating prisoners rather than building new prisons in an effort to make sure fewer of them return. But according to the DOC’s own projections, expanding reentry programs will only reduce prison demand by 1,000 beds by 2017. This is not an insignificant number, and funding for programs that effectively reduce recidivism should be provided; however, this clearly shows a 3,000-prison-bed shortfall even with effective reentry programs. The capacity problem must be addressed immediately to prepare for the increased number of offenders. While it is an admirable goal to reform and rehabilitate offenders, this should be secondary to ensuring public safety. In other words, the state must provide sufficient
“Washington lacks space to confine violent criminals, and yet there is actually debate about whether taxpayers should subsidize private sports stadiums?” The question we should all be asking our legislators and governor is, “What are you doing about this?” The good news is that this whole debacle can be fixed this session if lawmakers use Priorities of Government to craft the budget. With a $1.9 billion surplus, the capacity problem should be resolved immediately. But the DOC and the governor are hoping reentry programs such as basic education, drug treatment, and
funding and space to sequester non-rehabilitated criminals from the public. Adequate prison capacity should be the number one concern. Any budget signed by the governor that does not solve this problem is a violation of Priorities of Government and the public trust.
According to DOC projections, expanding reentry programs will only reduce prison demand by 1,000 beds by 2017.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Group seeks to put
voters in charge of elections
umerous experts and consultants have probed the interior of King County’s elections division since the 2004 debacle in an attempt to identify what went wrong. County Executive Ron Sims and embattled Director Dean Logan attempted to spin the problems as “human error” and the result of flawed processes. Almost unanimously, however, the various groups reviewing the county elections agreed that there was a deeper problem: a lack of leadership and accountability. It is fascinating, and quite sad, that many of the errors and opportunities for fraud can be traced back to a bad decision, or lack of a decision, by managers in the
elections office. Whether it was a lack of communication, lack of management skills, intent to throw the elections, or a combination thereof, the blame should be laid at the feet of those calling the shots. Yet voters weren’t able to remove even the top manager, Dean Logan, because in King County the County Executive appoints the elections director. A group of local, concerned citizens aim to change that with a county initiative filed in mid-March. Headed by former State Representative Toby Nixon and County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, the Citizens for Accountable Elections committee is currently gathering
the 54,000 required signatures to put Initiative 25 on the November ballot. The initiative would make two changes: First, it would create a nonpartisan elected office of director of elections, making the elections chief accountable to voters. Second, the initiative would create a standalone department of elections, removing the distractions of dog-catching and marriage licenses that are now a part of the combined Records, Elections, and Licensing Section. While this isn’t a panacea for Washington’s election ills, it is a positive step toward better leadership and accountability for elections in the state’s largest county. The separation of the department will also elevate the importance of elections, rightly treating it as a core function of government. Last year the Evergreen Freedom Foundation created the Evergreen Freedom Action League (EFAL), a 501(c)(4) organization designed to actively support efforts like this initiative. EFAL has come out in support of Initiative 25, believing it’s a step in the right direction for restoring election integrity in King County.
To read the initiative for yourself, visit the campaign committee website at www.accountableelections.org.
Election crimes go unpunished again
by Jonathan Bechtle
t’s official. Unless the crime is blatant, investigating and prosecuting election fraud takes too much work, at least if you’re part of the largest prosecutor’s office in the state of Washington. That’s the story from Dan Satterburg, chief of staff for King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, in a recent letter he sent detailing efforts to investigate allegations of double-voting submitted by researchers at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. During 2006 we conducted extensive research to uncover possible double-voters, using various public records. Despite major limitations in the data we were able to obtain, we found strong evidence of thirty-two double-voters from 2004 and 2005, the majority from King County. All the evidence was sent to the respective county auditors or election directors, who generally agreed that the votes were suspicious and passed these findings on to their prosecutor’s office. This discovery occurred months ago. Having not heard anything from King County about the investigations, we asked Prosecutor Maleng for an update. Dan Satterberg’s response indicated that our allegations had been reviewed, and that their office had “exercised
prosecutorial discretion in declining to pursue criminal charges,” primarily because most were first-time offenders “of advanced age or limited mental capacity.” Maybe so, but that doesn’t necessarily change the fact a crime was committed. What was disturbing was that Maleng also declined to prosecute even blatant fraud, such as the case of a woman who used two names for voting, listed her address as a post-office box in Renton, and voted in California at the same time she was doublevoting in Washington. If even the King County prosecutor doesn’t have the resources to investigate election crimes, then maybe the legislature needs to consider alternative means of enforcement. We should know for sure within the next few months, as Maleng has had an election fraud case dropped in his lap that fully qualifies as blatant. Prior to the 2006 general election, a local office of the radically left-wing American Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) submitted 1800 voter registrations forms after the due date, of which at least 400 made King County election officials immediately suspicious.
Susan’s struggle continued from page 6 . . .
“‘Mr. Maier belligerently responded,
During the follow-up hearing on March 21, Susan’s attorney presented evidence that Shared Hope’s administrative/program expense ratio was actually the exact opposite of what Mr. Maier had understood it to be, and that its latest ratio was even better (closer to 15/85). The attorney asked Mr. Maier whether he understood and agreed with the new evidence. When he conceded, the attorney asked whether Mr. Maier was prepared to change his recommendation that the VEA Executive Board not approve Susan’s choice. Mr. Maier belligerently responded, “I’m not in favor of this money going to Shared Hope International.” Hopefully, PERC will enforce the law and allow Susan to give to Shared Hope. We expect a PERC ruling on her case in mid-June. Citing Susan’s case as inspiration, Representative Jim Dunn (R-Vancouver) attempted to add an amendment to a bill to allow nonunion mem-
“I’m not in favor of this money going to Shared Hope International.”’
The election officials correctly spent the month of December investigating the registration forms to determine the extent of the problem. Internal emails show that they urged Maleng’s office to investigate. So far, it looks like they will. A Seattle Times story quoted Satterberg as saying attorneys from his office would meet with federal prosecutors to brief them on the “significant irregularities” found in the ACORN registrations. This opportunity allows Prosecutor Maleng to show that he is serious about preventing election fraud. ACORN’s actions, if proven, should be dealt with severely, and the organization should be prevented from conducting voter registration in Washington until it can prove adequate quality control. As the state’s chief elections officer, Secretary of State Sam Reed should also denounce ACORN’s actions and demand a thorough investigation. ACORN’s actions cannot be ignored. But beyond that, citizens must be assured that reports of election irregularities will be investigated, and if crimes are found, perpetrators fully prosecuted.
bers to give their mandatory dues to any charity that is registered with the Washington Secretary of State. Unfortunately, the amendment failed, but Susan said that she was gratified by Rep. Dunn’s amendment and that it has “brought awareness of the unfair union practice in the state legislature and could lead to change in the future.” Susan’s case has drawn much local and national attention. She said, “The support I have received from Evergreen Freedom Foundation and from various radio and news interviewers has been very encouraging. To know that many people believe in the stand I have taken for individual freedom of choice in the face of a union power play has been very important to me. “Of course, my goal is to be able to donate my union fees to Shared Hope International. If, in addition to that, other teachers are inspired to reject membership in a union that directly conflicts with their religious beliefs, the struggle I have experienced will have been even more worthwhile.”
George Marshall’s legacy continued from page 6 . . . into position. Radio chatter became frequent and we monitored the positions and movements of all units on the ground. At the C2 site we set up a folding table and map board for battle tracking. We had a large floor plan of the compound that was to be cordoned and searched. With any luck, we would return to base with at least one, possibly more, high-value targets. “Six this is Tree-Six, building one secure, over,” came the voice over the squawk box. The operation had begun. “Thwump! Thwump!” came the sound of two more illume rounds. Every fifteen minutes or so we would receive another confirmation: “Six, Tree-Six, buildings two-two and two-four secure. At this time we have detained four individuals.” And so went the operation. No shots fired, no serious resistance and more importantly no casualties. Apache attack-helos continued to fly a circuit low and overhead as they had done all night just in case close air support was needed. As dawn broke, the operation had been well underway for two hours. By this time, most of the buildings had been searched and just about all who would be detained had been. Some we let go and others we retained for further inquiry. After “Amidst a still the sun had fully risen, it became clear that we parked unclear war and our Humvees in the middle an often unknown of a local farmer’s crop field. enemy, I find Oops. It wasn’t intentional; simplistic escape we couldn’t have known in the children that was a crop when we had here. No matter the parked there. Our interpreters conveyed our apologies culture, they are the and gave the farmer a chit same as children to return to Coalition Forces everywhere. I see for reimbursement. my brothers and The dirt road we had sisters, your nieces pulled off of was narrow and nephews, and but opened up to fields as it exited a neighborhood children I know of mud huts and qalats just from back home in 30 meters to our left flank. all of them.” After a while, several children appeared, peaking with curiosity from around the corner. By this time the bulk of the operation, and the most dangerous part, were over. I waved to the children and yelled cheerfully, “Salaam!” It seems that all the children like to be around Americans, but I always try to reassure them that we are not a threat to them. Our Public Affairs Officer and I grabbed a box filled with muffins, Pop-Tarts and cookies that we packed to snack on and brought them over to the kids. Most children are ecstatic when Americans have treats to pass out. These children were different. They were all curious but it became clear that they had not had much exposure to Americans before—not like the kids in Kabul or Gardez, who are welltrained to know that anytime Coalition Forces are nearby, there is something good in store for them. One by one each child came forward to receive a muffin or cookies. The families here are very poor and many of the children are too skinny. I know they eat, but how well they eat is a mystery. As they become more comfortable with us, the smiles grow. They all cheer and give us thumbs up. I want to give them all high fives and roast beef, or balloons and pizza—anything that would make them happy and full. Amidst a still unclear war and an often unknown enemy, I find simplistic escape in the children here. No matter the culture, they are the same as children everywhere. I see my brothers and sisters, your nieces and nephews, and children I know from back home in all of
them. I am always captivated by the fact that amidst a combat environment, and while we park our vehicles in a family’s yard to set up a security point, the kids don’t care. They are innocent, curious, intrigued and all want candy. I love it. The children here are the peace in a globe of conflict. And I am thankful to know that my children will not have to know what an AK-47 is before they see their first Rambo movie, or see frequent death and gore. Explosions and soldiers in their back yard will likely never be a part of their life. My best hope for these children is that they will someday have that same life. We wrap up operations that day by conducting a humanitarian assistance mission. The compound we searched was large and only a few suspected insurgents were there. The rest were mostly families, women and children. It wasn’t their fault, so our response was to give them coats and jackets, nutrition and medical attention as a gesture of goodwill. In fact, most combat operations are conducted that way here. Even when convoys patrol towns, the gunners will toss soccer balls and Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) and bottled water to the townspeople. In many ways it has become an American tradition. George Marshall, in the aftermath of World War II, fostered a plan to rebuild a devastated Europe through humanitarian aid. In every conflict since, Americans have replicated the Marshall Plan for those whose lives have been disrupted by war. I know that force is sometimes necessary to preserve the articles of peace, but greater than that is the impact of compassion and giving. Helping those who can’t help themselves is a commandment of Christ, a saying of Ghandi and the Third Pillar of Islam. We are past the point in Operation Enduring Freedom where our method is solely brute force. We are still bracing for a large spring offensive by the Taliban, but that doesn’t mean that we are in danger of losing a grip on the progress we’ve made. Now, in order to come home for good, we know that we must win the hearts and minds of Afghans. Most troops here are truly interested in improving the Afghan quality of life. The Taliban neglected to provide for even the most basic needs of the Afghan people. Education and health programs, reconstruction and $300 million in aid to the Afghans have begun a process that no terror group can compete with. It’s my own belief that when the Taliban see that they can’t compete with generosity and compassion, they will lose in the face of their own vicious nature. Any hope for them will be lost. Louder than bombs are the sounds of happy children everywhere with new shoes, a school to attend or even just a muffin to eat. If you would like to participate, I would encourage you to contribute to the organization below. Most of all, your continued prayers will do. Pray for the continued safety of our troops and for the betterment of an Afghan society so we can come home. I write you from a dank tent in a growing country, thinking of you, missing you always. Best, Matt Matt Cole is EFF’s Deputy Communications Director. He is also an intelligence specialist in the United States Navy Reserve. Matt joined the Navy Reserve shortly after September 11, 2001, and is currently on his first tour of duty.
Please be encouraged to give to: Operation Not Forgotten - Afghanistan Operation Not Forgotten is organized by Navy sailors to help children in Afghanistan. Contact email@example.com. army.mil to find out how you can help.
Fifty trillion reasons why budget discipline matters by Jason Mercier
magine you were told that federal revenues increased by $255 billion in 2006. Now suppose that before you could reach for the party hats and streamers, you learned that during the same time the federal government spent $450 billion more than it received in revenues. Even before this grim reality sets in, let’s say you also learned that the federal government’s total fiscal exposures, including promised entitlements, have grown to more than $50 trillion. With these facts in hand, would you say America is facing a revenue problem or a lack of fiscal discipline? This is a question that all Americans need to answer and answer now. It’s also an issue the nation’s top auditor, U. S. Comptroller General David Walker, is desperately trying resolve while there are still options. Consider the following comments from the comptroller’s recent testimony in Congress (emphasis added): The federal government’s fiscal exposures now total over $50 trillion, representing close to four times the gross domestic product (GDP) in fiscal year 2006 and up from about $20 trillion, or two times GDP in 2000. We all know that it is hard to make sense of what “trillions” means. One way to think about it is if we wanted to put aside today enough to cover these promises, it would take about $440,000 per American household, up from $190,000 in 2000. Clearly, despite recent progress on our short-term deficits, we have been moving in the wrong direction in connection with our longrange imbalance in recent years. As members of this Subcommittee know, continuing on our current fiscal path would gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately even our domestic tranquility and national security. Many of the federal government’s current policies, programs, functions, and activities are based on conditions that existed decades ago, are not results-based, and are not well aligned with 21st century realities. So how does the comptroller recommend we address this problem? There is a need to engage in a fundamental review, reprioritization, and reengineering of the base of government. Understanding and addressing the federal government’s financial condition and long-term fiscal imbalance are critical to maintain fiscal flexibility so that we can respond to emerging social, economic, and security challenges. Bottom line, the federal government needs to do the same thing we’ve been trying to get the state of Washington to do: use priorities of government budgeting. Beyond scrubbing the federal budget and basing expenditures on prioritized outcomes, the real key to our nation’s economic health is staring us in the mirror every morning. As much as we may want to place the blame for the nation’s fiscal woes on those “dirty dogs” in D.C., the real responsibility and culpabilities rest with voters. If the American people stop demanding excess spending, elected officials will stop bringing home the bacon and hopefully spend more time on the core functions of government. The status quo is not an option. We must remember that failure to take action now ultimately means that politicians and voters will continue to write checks today our children and grandchildren will be forced to pay for tomorrow.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
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Employee negotionations continued from page 1 . . . Jay Ubelhart, a state ferry employee, warned: As public employees in the ferry system we are in the public eye and have close daily contact with customers thousands of times each day…. If I, in the heat of negotiations, stated I didn’t give a damn about those complaining customers and it was written down by a member of the management team, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, or a media outlet would print it on the front page of any communications organ of their choosing. Cursing at taxpayers may be a luxury of closed negotiations, but this does not justify denying the public access to negotiation records. These state employees need to remember that taxpayers finance the negotiation process, the contracts, and sometimes even union negotiators. While the case moves forward, unions attempted to hedge their bets by having lawmakers introduce House Bill 2326, exempting negotiation documents from the
If I… stated I didn’t give a damn about those complaining customers and it was written down by a member of the management team, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation… would print it on the front page…. ~ State ferry worker Jay Ubelhart
Public Records Act. This bill would have impeded the public’s right to obtain information about union negotiations at all levels of government, including school districts. This information is of legitimate interest to taxpayers, lawmakers, and the news media, as these are public contracts funded by public funds. This information is also of interest to public employees—these workers could ensure the best possible agreement was reached on their behalf.
Because of the attention given open government issues during this year’s Sunshine Week, the bill died on the House floor. Disclosure of documents produced during negotiations does not harm the integrity of the collective bargaining process, does not impede rank-and-file participation in negotiations, and does not interfere with the right of employees to organize. Taxpayers deserve to know what happens in state labor negotiations. After all, we’re paying the bill.
please join us FOR the
Planning for Life
Save the Date! May 17, 2007 Seattle, WA 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Seminar (Lunch served)
his workshop is for any EFF member who wants to know how to make plans to 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 crafted a plan, but it needs a tune-up. Perhaps you turned your estate planning over to someone else to decide, and now you are unsure if you made the best choices.
Topics that will be addressed include: • Protecting our assets against unnecessary taxes (especially the death tax). • Ways to involve our loved ones to avoid potential disagreements. • How to consolidate our most important life values and translate those values into our estate planning. • Choosing the most appropriate tools for our particular situation. • Where to get help. Please feel free to bring your attorney or any other professional you may have already hired or are considering hiring. No services are sold at this workshop. No one will ask you to sign up for anything.
5:30 p.m. Dinner We are very careful about who we recommend in the area of planned giving. We have heard many horror stories. The (Optional) experts you will be hearing from on May 17 are well known and highly regarded in their field. Bill Larson and Alan Pratt are Washington state natives with deep roots in their communities. And they love liberty! Additionally, we have asked two representatives of donoradvised trusts to join us in the afternoon. They will give us a picture of the different types of vehicles we can use to distribute our assets, if that’s the route we choose. Many marvelous options exist. It will be a day full of great information and good conversation, too. Please consider joining us. For more information, contact: Irene Endicott 206.718.6566 IEndicott@effwa.org Bob Williams 360.956.3482 BWilliams@effwa.org
Attendance is limited to 50 people.