Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for July, 2008

Sell Seattle City Light – Endow Parks

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 29, 2008

A consortium has offered to buy Puget Sound Energy (PSE) for $7.4 billion. Determining a price for PSE involved looking at assets and liabilities, ROI (return on investment), cash flow, future sales and profitability among other factors. A similar process would be involved in establishing a sales price for Seattle City Light. It’s really a job for the accountants and mergers and acquisitions attorneys but for purposes of this discussion; let’s use $3 billion. Let’s also assume investment of sale proceeds could earn a return of five to ten percent per year on average or $150 to $300 million.

So what could we do with this money? One possibility, establish a trust fund dedicated to Seattle parks. With such an endowment, no need for the approximately $120 million annual operating cost for parks in the Seattle city budget. No need for the proposed $146 million extension to the property tax funded parks levy. There are other benefits. The utility would be free of city politics. Rate setting and oversight would move from the ill prepared City Council to the professional Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission. As a private company, City Light would be more efficient and likely offer better service.

Yes, electric rates may raise slightly; private companies have to pay some taxes government owned ones do not, but on balance, a lower city budget, elimination of a property tax and stable funding for a first class parks system make the idea worth considering.


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A Brit’s View of Radical Islam

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 28, 2008

It’s a six minute video filled with dry humor as only a member of the Queen’s subjects can deliver. The humor has more than a grain of truth. Just click on the blue high lighted Url and enjoy.;jsessionid=vc5etodd779g

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What If It’s Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama?

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 20, 2008

What if most intelligence experts say Iran is close to having a nuclear weapon but a few others think they are years away? Will President Obama dither or will he decide the risk of a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable and exercise the military option?

In a similar situation, President Bush had to decide if the risk of Saddam slipping the sanctions noose and restarting Iraq’s nuclear program was acceptable in the light of 9-11. Most of the world’s intelligence agencies were not only concerned that Saddam would break free of the sanctions but also believed he had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. Bush sought the help of allies. He went to the UN. Ultimately he made the decision. With support from the UK and lesser contributions of forces from dozens of other nations, he gave the order to remove the Saddam threat.

State Senator Obama opposed the Iraq war. He railed against it in the primaries. He opposed the surge, said it wouldn’t work. He says Iraq is a sideshow and the central front in the War on Terror is Afghanistan. He claims he wants to get out of Iraq and move troops to the Afghan fight.

By his statements, regardless of which side of the flip-flop he espouses, Obama shows his inexperience and ignorance. His insistence on a rapid pull out from Iraq is like failing to complete your full course of antibiotics. You risk getting sick again as well as building up resistance to the medication. He does not know the difference between a battle and a war. Al qaeda does. They have called Iraq the major battle for survival. There is evidence that Al qaeda knows they are defeated in Iraq and are retreating to Afghanistan. Had we listened to Obama and his ilk, we would have been the losers.

A surprise is in the offing for President Obama if he increases American forces in Afghanistan. The death toll will rise. The media will publicize it daily. His fellow Democrats, especially his political base on the Left, will turn against him. “The British lost, the Soviet Union lost, and we can’t win in Afghanistan either.” “It’s a quagmire.” “Get out now.” “Obama lied, troops died.” What will be the consequences if under political pressure he changes his mind again and chooses a cut and run strategy like he once supported for Iraq?

So what will it be? Secure victory in Iraq and Afghanistan or blunder into defeat? Will he confront Iran or consult with Europe, send stern diplomatic warnings, go to the UN? And what of the American public? Will they awake one morning to the news of a mushroom cloud over an Iranian test site and wish they had voted for John McCain?

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Sexual Harassment and Politics

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 18, 2008

Several years ago, then Governor Mike Lowry paid over $ 97,000 to settle a sexual harassment charge. A female employee claimed Lowry had inappropriately touched her. I don’t know Governor Lowry personally and I certainly don’t agree with him politically but anyone who has observed him knows he is an extremely gregarious if not flamboyant personality – a hugging, back slapping politician. I am always a little cautious when I hear such charges especially during an election campaign. While many accusations of sexual indiscretions by politicians prove to be true (Clinton, Gingrich etc.), I am reminded of the observation of a well-known radio host, “It is not a question of guilt or innocence, but the seriousness of the charge that counts.” Or, perception is more important than reality.

Washington State Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland, running for reelection, fell victim to this recently. In a front page July 16, 2008 article, the Seattle Times headlined a story concerning a complaint against Sutherland by a female employee of inappropriate touching and comments. It was reported that he “touched her back and waist and made suggestive comments that made her uncomfortable.” Mr. Sutherland claimed that he touched her back “after a testy meeting with off road enthusiasts” and commented that she didn’t appear to have “any arrows in her back.”

I wasn’t there so I don’t know where the truth lies. The article does mention that the Times only published the story after it was revealed on a well-known Democrat blog and true to form, the State Democratic Party sent out a condemning news release. For both Lowry and Sutherland, there is no allegation of a pattern of behavior. But that is not important, the damage is done even if the charges are never substantiated.

I knew a manager, many years ago, who was well known by women employees as “one to watch out for.” A woman in my organization once worked for him. She told me he stopped by her desk one day to talk and casually draped his arm over her shoulder letting his fingers rest on her chest. He was over six feet tall, she, under five two. She took his hand and forcefully removed it off her and told him never try that again. He never did.

The point is she took care of the situation herself. Nowadays, lawyers have instilled such a level of fear in companies and managers that even a hint of impropriety is treated as a major offense. It has spawned a whole industry devoted to helping companies and institutions avoid sexual harassment suits. Once accused, it is often better to apologize and pay off the complainant than wage a “he said, she said” fight in which the “he” usually loses. Sadly, as more women enter management, we are seeing sexual harassment suits by male employees against women managers. Maybe it would be better if parents trained their children to be more assertive when they feel someone is treating them inappropriately.

As a member of the predator class of humankind (males), I’m sure virtually every one of us has made a comment, told a joke, looked at or even touched a female in a way that made her uncomfortable. And most of us have been told so by word or action and didn’t repeat the behavior. We live in a time of mixed messages. Look at TV. The cable show “Mad Men” about an advertising firm where sexual harassment is the norm was recently nominated for an Emmy. Try the popular show “Friends” and its message of no consequences sex. Advertisements from Viagra to Victoria’s Secret litter the media. No man still breathing will think the same way about a woman he works with professionally after seeing her in a string bikini at an office pool party. None of this excuses boorish behavior nor does it mitigate the harm done by serial abusers who should be punished. But we do need to pause and reflect before we brand a public official with a scarlet letter, especially just before an election.

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Best Service is Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force?

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 14, 2008

Humor from the Internet to which a friend of mine said, “I’ll drink to that!”.

A Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine got into an argument as to which service was “the best.” The arguing became so intense the four servicemen failed to see an oncoming truck. They were struck and killed instantly.

Soon the servicemen found themselves at the Pearly Gates where they met St. Peter. They decided only he could be the ultimate source of truth and honesty. So, the four asked him, “St. Peter, which branch of the United States Armed Forces is the best?” After a few moments he replied that he could not answer that and would have to kick it up to God for an answer the next time he saw Him. Meanwhile, thank you for your service on earth and welcome to Heaven..

Sometime later the four see St. Peter and remind him of the question they had asked when first entering Heaven. Suddenly a sparkling white dove lands on St. Peter’s shoulder. there is a note, glistening with gold dust, in the dove’s beak. “This must be the answer from the Boss, let’s see what it says.”

He opens the note, trumpets blare, gold dust drifts into the air, harps play crescendos, and St. Peter reads aloud to the servicemen.


TO: Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.

Gentlemen, all branches of the United States Armed Forces are honorable and noble. Each serves America well and with distinction. Being servicemen in the United States Military represents a special calling warranting special respect, tribute and dedication. Be proud of that.


GOD, USN (Ret)

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Seattle and Public Financing of Campaigns

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 9, 2008

I sent my post on public financing of campaigns to members of the King County and Seattle City councils. I received a few responses one of which is below.

Mr. Peterson,

I received your email with the links to your blog, in which you discuss
County Councilmember Bob Ferguson’s support for public campaign
financing. I haven’t decided where I stand on the issue, but I think
you have most definitely raised concerns I think shared by many,
questioning why should taxpayers foot the bill for the self promotion of

In the case of King County, its projected 2009 budget shortfall in
excess of $60 million, with the likelihood of sheriff deputy layoffs,
makes it hard to see where the funds for campaign financing might be
found. It seems clear they have a systemic budget problem, not simply
an economic downturn, so their budget shortfalls are likely to persist.

The City of Seattle is also facing a likely budget shortfall this
coming year, although not nearly so bad. In addition, it is unlikely a
measure for the public financing of municipal elections will be sent to
voters this fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle voters approve
such a measure which I think will be placed on the 2009 ballot However,
I think we need to have a much deeper discussion of what problems we are
trying to solve with public financing, and whether such a system would
answer those problems. As of yet, I’m not convinced, although I most
definitely think campaigns are becoming disturbingly expensive.

Richard J. McIver
Seattle City Council

At least one member of the City Council seems to have his head screwed on right.

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Republican Candidates in Seattle

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 9, 2008

Who said there are no Republicans in Seattle? About a dozen brave souls have filed as Republicans for legislative seats in Seattle districts. The 46th Legislative District covering the north end of the city has two Republican candidates for the State House of Representatives. One is Keith Ljunghammar. He is running for the open seat currently held by Rep. Jim McIntire who is seeking the State Treasurer’s job this election. Unfortunately for Keith there are two Democrats fighting (in court as well as in the primary) for the seat. With our new Top Two primary system, Ljunghammar will have a tough time making it into the final in November.

In the other House seat however, Republican John Sweeney is challenging incumbent Rep. Phyllis Kenney, a liberal’s liberal who, for the sake of taxpayers if nothing else, needs to be replaced. John is an extremely well qualified candidate, almost better than the Soviet of Seattle deserves. But who knows, with ballooning taxes, ever more stringent restrictions on personal freedom and, of course, loss of the Sonics, maybe enough voters will wake up and revolt at the polls. Take a look at John’s web site and see if you agree.

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America, the Beautiful

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 7, 2008

July 4, 2008 marked the 232nd year of this great American experiment. When asked what the newly written Constitution provided, Benjamin Franklin is purported to have said “A republic, if you can keep it.” Keep it we have through wars, social unrest and political crisis. How does one explain it? Perhaps it is said best by Katherine L. Bates’ words to what could be called our national hymn, “America, the Beautiful”.

O beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.

O beautiful, for pilgrim feet
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw;
Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!

O beautiful, for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
‘Til all success be nobleness, and ev’ry gain divine!

O beautiful, for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years,
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!

And all God’s children said “Amen.”

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Obama, Guns and Kids

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 4, 2008

This one has been going around the net.

Barack Obama, the lead Presidential Democratic Party candidate, is for banning all guns in America . He is considered by those who have dealt with him as a bit more than just a little self-righteous.

At a recent rural elementary school assembly in EastTexas, he asked the audience for total quiet. Then, in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands once every few seconds, holding the audience in total silence.

Then he said into the microphone, ‘Children, every time I clap my hands together, a child in America dies from gun violence.’

Then, little Richard Earl, with a proud East Texas drawl, pierced the quiet and said: ”Well, dumb-ass, stop clapping!’

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