Planning an Event at Traditions about Extinctions

and we will need some video and audio to run and talk over.

Here is 14 minutes of video from Professor Peter Ward from UW

TED talk by Peter Ward

 

 

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My friend Rod recommends this video

Saga City – Our communities facing climate change from SAGA CITÉ on Vimeo.

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Dear Friend, Harold Carson, Passed Yesterday

It may not make the papers or the tv news, but a truly wonderful person died in Olympia yesterday.

My friend, Harold Carson, died peacefully, as he had always lived, at the convalescent center at Panorama City.   I don’t know where to start or what to say about Harold except that I loved and respected this gentle man.  Harold, you are missed.  You lived well.  You touched so many people, and you touched them deeply, kindly, with fierce and loving intention.  Well done, my dear friend.  A life well lived.

Common Dreams carried a quote from Howard Zinn yesterday that spoke my mind and heart:

Howard Zinn photo“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”

“And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

I believe that Harold Carson lived as he thought human beings should live. Harold’s life was a marvelous victory.

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Smartest podcast program on the web?

Against the Grain gets my vote. Listen to this interview with Timothy Morton:

Gaia theory holds that the Earth is a living, self-regulating system, a whole much bigger than the sum of its parts. Timothy Morton dares to challenge not only that perspective’s holism, but also the very existence of “nature.” Morton’s belief in radical interconnectedness is informed in part by his close reading of Darwin.

Can’t follow the conversation without moving pictures?

ok, here you go.  A talk about Hegel, ecology and subjective positioning.

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Ferguson v. Port of Olympia, Part II

Ok, jumping back in on the Port of Olympia. If you want to start at the beginning, go here for Part I.Logs Oly port 2011July1 (3)

If you want to start with Part II and not look back, the story is that former finance director Kevin Ferguson has sued the Port of Olympia and Edward Galligan for wrongful discharge, violation of whistleblower law and other tortious conduct.

So, working from the lawsuit Ferguson v. Port of Olympia again, I note/quote from the lawsuit:

  • “In approximately late June/early July, 2011, plaintiff (Ferguson) met with two Commissioners to alert them to what plaintiff considered to be some of the serious issues that he had reported to Galligan (Port Executive Director Edward Galligan) , and advised them that Galligan had failed to take any remedial action.  The issues that plaintiff reported at that time included the failure of Galligan to follow Port personnel policies, and the apparent nepotism and increased technology expenses in a potentially unlawful awarding of a technology contract.”

and

  • “on August 16, 2011, plaintiff was compelled to submit a written report via email to Port Commissioner Jeff Davis, which laid out plaintiff’s reasonable belief about violations of law or policy and waste of Port funds, most of which implicated Galligan.  The written report identified a variety of matters with details information, including but not limited to the following:

(a.) Nepotism in the award of the Port’s IT contract to the brother-in-law of Galligan’s former secretary and the Port’s HR Manager, who was directly responsible for all information technology at the Port, which appeared in conflict with Port Policy 108.

(b.) Change of the IT award/oversight from the HR Manager to a staff person, who was nevertheless supervised by the HR Manager, continuing to appear in conflict with Port Policy 108.

(c.) Waste of Port funds in paying an excessive amount of $10,000 per month to maintain the IT system, and payment of such amounts with lack of adequate service by the IT consultants – one who resided in Vermont most of the year and the other who left the Port without local technology support while out of the area.

(d.) Award of the IT contract to an entity which has a statutory two year ban from public work due to previously operating without a license

(e.) Payment to the IT contractor after the contract expired, and renewal of an expired contract without first requesting new proposals for qualifications or bids.”

In reading through the 17 page Ferguson complaint, it becomes clear that the IT contract is a somewhat central thread that should be subject to public scrutiny for the purposes of deciding if the Port is operating in an ethical and forthright manner.

So, how would we start to get to the heart of this story?   Why not start with a quick look at the contracting entity and the contract?

Sorry, need to go to work, will be back with a look at the contracting entity and the contract in a day or two.

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Ferguson v. Port of Olympia, Part I

What is going on at the Port of Olympia?proppant ship

The Daily Olympian carried a story on May 21, 2013 about a lawsuit filed by the Port’s former finance director, Kevin Ferguson, against the Port and the Port’s Exec Director, Edward Galligan. .  Among other things, Ferguson’s lawsuit alleges that the Port’s contract for IT services is not quite right.

That’s an interesting allegation and one that might be easy to sort out.

Here are specific passages and allegations from the Ferguson lawsuit:

  • “In approximately January, 2011, Galligan directed plaintiff (Ferguson) to write a leter or recommendation to the Port Commissioners in support of a pay raise for Galligan.  Although he was not comfortable with this directive, plaintiff was compelled to follow Galligan’s instruction.  Plaintiff wrote the letter, but only after informing two commissioners in advance as to the directive he had been given.”

A little bit of context for this bit: Galligan was Ferguson’s direct supervisor at the time and the commissioners are charged with supervising the executive director.  Is there a cause of action here?  Probably not, but I think lots of us understand that this type of request from a direct supervisor would feel coercive and manipulative.

  • “Throughout plaintiff’s employment he observed and discovered a variety of matters which adversely impacted the financial status of the Port and which he reasonabley believed to constitute mismanagement, waste or violations of law…  Many of the items plaintiff was discovering and observing included acts or omissions by the office of the Executive Director, Galligan.”

A little bit of context for this item:  The Port belongs to all of us.  The Port holds title to property with a value in the range of 300 million dollars.  The management of these holdings require that the tax payers of Thurston County ante up 4.8 million dollars per year to keep the Port afloat.  These simple facts do raise questions about the financial management at the Port.  Couldn’t we simply hire a property management firm and get a better return on investment?

The Port likes to tout its role in job creation, but I think a hard look at the jobs that would actually disappear if the port property was operated by a property management firm instead of a quasi-public agency would reveal that the public is buying very few good local jobs with the investment of 4.8 million per year.

That’s enough for today, back in a few days with more from the Port on questions about the IT contract and the Port’s environmental record.

 

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Earth Day? Olympia Port of Commissioners Political Action

The Port of Olympia continues to move fracking materials from China to the Bakken Formation in North Dakota.  I think that makes the Port an accessory to murder of the planet.

We have some work to do with the Port of Olympia Commissioners.  We continue to talk to the three commissioners.  The next opportunity to speak to them is April 22nd at 5:30 pm at the LOTT Building.  If you want to sign a petition to ask the Commissoners to stop importing fracking materials, click on this link.

If you want to reach the commissioners by email or phone, click on the links below:

The Port of Olympia could be a cornerstone of sustainable South Sound economics, but it appears at this time that we have only one commissioner willing to vote for sustainable projects over simple economic projects.  That commissioner is George Barner.

We have another commissioner, Jeff Davis, talking a good game about the environment and actively engaged with Oly Enviro Activists, but so far refusing to commit to any changes in Port policy that would change the facts on the ground.

The last commissioner, Bill McGregor, appears to be tone-deaf to concerns about the environment.  From what I have heard from Bill, I think he is hopeless on the environment and we should simply work to replace him.

It takes a lot of energy to develop and sustain a Port action as activists who remember the 2007 Olympia Port Militarization Resistance may tell you, but there are times when it is necessary.  We may be in one of those times.

But we can take a shortcut to Port Revolution later this year through the election process.  Commissioners Davis and McGregor are both up for re-election later this year and replacing either or both of them with a Commissioner who is committed to a sustainable economy and environment would bring significant change.

Commissioner Jeff Davis represents District 3 which is the west third of Thurston County.  Dave Peeler has run for that position in the past and would bring strong environmental sensibilities to the Board. I am not aware that Dave Peeler has expressed any interest in running this year, but somebody should talk to him about that. I have heard rumors that other folks are considering a run, but nothing solid yet.

Commissioner McGregor represents District Two which is the eastern third of the County.  You have to live in the District to be an elected commissioner.  Can we find a good environmental candidate in District Two for this election?

April 29th is the first day the Auditor’s Office can accept filings by mail.  Filing week is May 13 to May 17.

We need a couple of folks to step in to the big shoes and help Thurston County reduce its carbon footprint.

Thurston County District Map

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The Political Significance of this Cannot be Understated

but it has entertainment value, so…

Thanks to Mary for passing this one on

My ISP has jumped to Word Press.  I don’t like it, but unless I want to do a lot of code work, I am now stuck with the look of Word Press.  I am not sure the old look was the Good, but I was used to it.  Not sure if Word Press is Bad or Ugly, you can help me decide.  Don’t like that changey thing, I guess.

This may be what the black bloc needs:  Ukes!  and Accordions.

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Income and Wealth Inequality

Everybody is putting this one up.  And for good reason.   Guess I better add to the queue.

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Scanning the News

A few items jumped out at me.

  •  WAPO says Obama is looking ahead to the 2014 congressional election because the current GOP house is hopeless. Our situation on the shore of the Salish Sea is the same, but it’s the Repub senate in WA State that is the big problem on the local level.  It worth noting that the US popular vote for House of Reps went solidly to the dems in 2012 despite a lot of vote suppression work, but thanks to successful district gerrymandering by the Republican Party.  I am not sanguine about the legislative results that derive from the Democratic Congress that Barack might dream about.  I am thinking we need to elect the climate congress at State and Federal level in 2014.  That would be a group who would actually act on global warming.  The dems talk the talk.  The Repubs talk denial by and large.  We need elected bodies who will walk the walk.  That would be a peaceful revolution to elect Climate Congress in 2014.  I am down with that.
  • Alternet reports that some important assumptions that underly the “science” of economics and human nature are probably wrong.  The study is controversial in several regards, but the results seem to indicate that economists and psychologists have viewed the world through the lens provided by studying human nature as it exists in industrialized communities and making an assumption about how the dominant paradigm of industrialized communities is human nature.  Oops.

  • More human nature stuff from Alternet and Globalpossibilities.org:
    Could feelings of disgust be the key to saving the planet from global warming? Strange as it might seem, the answer may be yes.

    Concern over environmental harm is disproportionately a liberal phenomena, but concern over violating the purity and sanctity of nature cuts across ideological lines. What’s more, it’s not an abstract concern. Violations of morality of the purity/sanctity kind are linked to a visceral disgust.

    This isn’t just idle speculation. A new series of studies suggests a potential way out of the polarized gridlock that’s crippled our national response to the threat of global warming. ” The Moral Roots of Environmental Attitudes,” by Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer, published in Psychological Science in December, studied the impact of framing environmental communication in terms of different moral frameworks, and concluded that messaging based on the moral value of purity, which appeals primarily to conservatives, can help bridge the ideological divide on environmental issues—including global warming.

Spike Lee is correct:  Do the right thing.

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