Public Bathrooms in Olympia? Well, Maybe. Round 3

I have a dream!  It’s not a dream on the scale of ML King Jr.’s dream Wiki Commons, courtesy Tomwsulcerand if I try to express my dream in a speech, it won’t bring a lump to your throat the way that Martin’s dream speech will, but if you have a full bladder in downtown Olympia after hours some day, you may share my dream of increased public access to bathrooms.

Here is the letter I sent to the Olympia City Council and to Thomas Henderson and Joyce Turner at General Administration earlier today:

Dear All:

I am active with the Olympia Coalition for a Fair Budget.  I have been communicating with the City of Olympia for several weeks about the need to increase access to public bathrooms in downtown Olympia.  In the past few weeks, I also starting communicating with GA regarding the problem of limited bathroom access in downtown Olympia.  I spoke to the City Council about this problem on October 4th. The City has expressed support for the idea of increased public access, but also expressed concerns about vandalism, drug use and other inappropriate activities that arise with public bathroom access after hours and I share the City Council’s concern about the challenge of having bathrooms open 24 hours per day.

I was in downtown Olympia on Friday evening and again on Saturday.  I was astonished at the number of people taking part in the Food Summit and the public events at Sylvester Park.  I understand that a potentially large group of people may now intend to assemble in Sylvester Park and petition for redress of grievance, a critical and protected First Amendment right and I am very excited about the energy, the commitment to democratic process and the dedication to non-violence that I am hearing from the folks gathering at Sylvester Park.  We truly live in interesting times.

I encourage the City of Olympia and General Administration to recognize that this kind of free speech movement eclipses park and public space rules.  I encourage the City of Olympia and General Administration to step up and show respect for the most important civil right of all, the right to gather and engage in free speech in public space.  I also request that we seize this unique opportunity to have a trial run at increased access to public bathrooms by establishing a trial program of opening the public bathrooms at Heritage Park for the benefit of the people who are taking part in the free speech movement and also to support the larger community who want to be able to walk through downtown Olympia without the increase in sanitation issues that will arise with the number of people who are now spending many hours per day living their free speech movement in public space.

I believe we can receive cooperation and support from  the General Assembly that is taking place daily at Sylvester Park with the monitoring and maintenance of the public bathrooms.

Please review quickly and let’s discuss the possibility of opening the public bathrooms at Heritage Park effective Monday, October 17th on a trial basis while we convene public meetings of stakeholders who are interested in this issue.

Sincerely,

Mike Coday

Public Bathrooms in Olympia? Well, Maybe.

After a couple of weeks of emailing the Olympia City Council about the need for better public facility access in downtown Olympia, I went to the City Council meeting and asked them face to face to commit a staff person to taking part in meetings to explore the possibilities.  I spy public bathrooms

I did not get a yes to the staff commitment idea, but I did get a pretty reasonable reception and responses from several council persons.  There seems to be an understanding that more facility access is needed.  I was encouraged by the responses.  Also, big thank you to Paul for standing up to second my request. I think Paul was persuasive because he spoke from first person perspective of a guy who does not currently have good access to facilities.  Paul mentioned that there is limited public facility access after-hours in Oly is at the Transit Center and out at the Marina.

Here is my current thinking on this issue:  We need to convene meeting(s) with representatives from the City and from General Administration to talk about the possibility of opening up bathrooms.  We need to include the downtown business owners, social service agency reps, and spokespersons from the houseless population to discuss a trial run of expanded bathroom access.

I wrote to General Administration yesterday and asked them to review the availability of public facility access in the areas that GA controls.  Haven’t heard back yet.

The obvious trial model would be to open the bathrooms either at Heritage Park or Percival Landing for longer hours.  I think it is important that we get buy-in from the the folks on the street who would use the facilities.  That community needs to understand that the City and GA are rightly worried about property destruction, vandalism and increased infrastructure costs related to taking this step.

Here are my comments to the City Council from last night:

First, thank you for your service to the community.

I am here tonight to the City Council to take tangible steps to beautify downtown Olympia by increasing access to public bathrooms. We hear complaints on a regular basis that the sidewalks, streets and alleys of downtown Olympia are like a public sewer.  Here are a couple of facts to consider in that regard:

First:  if you are broke and on the streets of Olympia at 10 or 11 pm and you need to find a toilet, you are out of luck.

Second:  nobody wants to be in that position.

The City is in a position to do something about this problem.

We are living through the worst economic downturn of our lifetimes.  The State and Federal governments are attempting to fix their revenue problems by cutting services and funding to people who are in dire need of support.  Many people with no other options are now living on the streets.  Criminalizing poverty is not the answer.  I don’t think that increasing access to public facilities is the answer either, but it is a good place to start.

I would like to see the City of Olympia step up and find a way to make the public facilities of the City more available.  I have also invited General Administration to take part in public meetings to discuss this problem. I request that the City assign a staff person to take part in public meetings with downtown business owers, representatives from social service agencies, General Administration and individuals who are attempting to survive on the street to discuss better public facility access.  I think think you have all received my recent emails on this matter.  You have an opportunity to be part of the solution to this problem.  I look forward to hearing back from you.

Thank you.

More on this matter soon.  A big public thank you to the City Council for their thoughtful responses to my request.

Olympia Public Bathroom Request – 24/7 to Beautify the Downtown! Round 2

The City of Olympia responded to my request last month that they include public bathrooms in the Artesian Well improvement and reported they don’t have the funds to include public bathrooms at the Artesian Well.  That’s fine for now.  But the national and state economy are putting more people on the streets every day and public bathrooms seem like the least we can do for folks and let it not be said that we did not do the least we could do, right?

Last week, I sent a message to the City Council asking them to open the bathrooms at City Hall 24/7 to improve the lot of people living on the street and to reduce the public blight of sidewalks, alleys, doorways, etc, being used as after-hour toilet facilities.  I did not get a response last week, so I am renewing my request today.   I suggest that those of us who support public bathrooms 24/7 let our voices be heard.  I think there is a City Council meeting on Tuesday at 7 pm at City Hall.

Here is my email to the City Council:

Dear Sirs and Madams:

I did not receive a response to my earlier email, so I am sending it again.  I hope you will consider this proposal.  I believe that a lot of the groups that work with the houseless population in Olympia are eager to work with the City to resolve any concerns that the City might have regarding public bathrooms.  The bathrooms need to be in areas that are routinely patrolled by police or security officers and they need to be seen as a private/public partnership to improve the downtown area.

I look forward to hearing from you regarding this proposal.

Sincerely,

Mike Coday

On 09/23/2011 09:02 AM, Mike Coday wrote:

Dear Sirs and Madams:

Could the City make arrangements to have the public bathrooms at City Hall open on a 24 hour basis?  We have already paid the construction cost, there is pretty good security in that building and there is daily maintenance of the bathrooms.  We really need to increase access to public bathrooms in downtown Olympia.  This is a win-win situation.  We could “clean up” downtown Olympia in a meaningful way by making sure that visitors and residents of downtown Olympia can find a bathroom when they need one. 

Thank you for considering this request.

Sincerely,

 Mike Coday

Want to add your voice?

Doug Mah <dmah@ci.olympia.wa.us>

Craig Ottavelli <cottavel@ci.olympia.wa.us>

Stephen Buxbaum <sbuxbaum@ci.olympia.wa.us>

Karen Rogers <krogers@ci.olympia.wa.us>

Jeannine Roe <jroe@ci.olympia.wa.us>

Rhenda Iris Strub <rstrub@ci.olympia.wa.us>

Steve Langer <slanger@ci.olympia.wa.us>

A few thoughts on Obama’s accomplishments

I know that there are folks who think Obama has done a lot of good, I am just not one of them. I believe that ACA is a sellout to industry that I think will be gutted by the SCOTUS or repealed by a reactionary Congress, it was not the revolution to Medicare for Everyone that is needed. DADT is gone at long last, Obama’s justice department is no longer defending DOMA (is that audacious?).  Baby steps in the right direction. Courtesy Washington Liberals

But, those baby steps are dwarfed by Obama’s increased use of drone attacks outside of war zones, his embrace of the War on Terror which knows no boundaries or limits, and now, the assassination of an American citizen by drone attack. Make no mistake, this is an impeachable offense, a high crime. A crime that Obama is unlikely to held accountable for, but it is a high crime, an awful precedent, a betrayal of our 5th Amendment right to due process. I am no fan of the Osama bin Laden assassination. I see nothing to celebrate in assassinations. In a human sense, a moral sense, there is no difference between the presidential assassination of bin Laden and the presidential assassination of al-Awlaki, but there are some constitutional differences that scholars may parse if they are so inclined.

We are now holding a handful of meaningless constitutional rights. Read’em and weep.

Happy Monday to all.

Free Market Follies

It’s easy to beat up on Keynsian economics in good times, but in a serious economic downturns, keynsian economics are the way up and out.  The push and pull between keynsian economics and free market economics represent a scale and reasonable people will understand that both have their place in large-scale economic, real world applications.  <img src=”http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e2/US_annual_federal_deficits_1901_to_2006_redblue.svg/449px-US_annual_federal_deficits_1901_to_2006_redblue.svg.png” title=”Wiki Commons courtesy 84user” alt=”Wiki Commons courtesy 84user” vspace=”3″ width=”365″ align=”right” border=”2″ height=”271″ hspace=”3″ />

Unregulated free markets give you the mortgage crisis economic collapse.  The answer?  regulate the free market.  Regulation does cut into profits.  It also prevents rampant corruption in the free market that can create a long term economic downturn in exchange for short term bonus income.  Regulate the free economy.  It ain’t rocket science.  The second tool to create a relatively stable and honest “free” market is a steeply progressive tax schedule that makes short term profit-taking too difficult.  It changes the dynamics of corruption, greed, temptation for folks with weak ethical constitutions if they know that the government is going to get the lion’s share of their income if they throw out good sense and choose to enrich themselves at the expense of their businesses and the larger economy.

Well, that’s where we are these days and we are not getting out of the global economic slump without turning to Keynsian economic fixes.  They are counter intuitive and they work.  The deficits have to increase to get the economy growing again (this would be a good time to spur green economic growth – clean energy?  energy independence? move away from internal combustion personal transportation?).

But the free market fundamentalists cannot understand that their end of the economic scheme spectrum cannot bring an economy out of a slump.  It’s akin to “the beatings will continue until morale improves,” pulling more money out of the economy in a slump by cutting government spending simply deepens the downturn.

There are different problems that can develop with an economic model that is too tightly regulated, central state economic planning cannot harness the economic engine of fashion, desire, etc. that is like a force of nature.  Free market economics knows how to derive growth from the force of nature that is fashion, fad and desire.  But we don’t have to worry about too little free market freedom.  That is not our problem today.

<a href=”http://news.yahoo.com/doubts-grow-not-economy-under-uk-austerity-drive-071138072.html” target=”_blank”>David Stringer at AP has an article</a> out:
<blockquote><strong>Doubts grow, not economy, under UK austerity drive </strong>
<p id=”yui_3_3_0_1_1317568704325295″>MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Jobs have been lost, libraries shuttered, sailors sacked and street lights dimmed — <span class=”yshortcuts cs4-visible” id=”lw_1317559979_2″>Britain</span> is beginning to taste the bitter medicine <span class=”yshortcuts cs4-visible” id=”lw_1317559979_0″>David Cameron</span> warned was necessary to fix its wounded economy. It’s left some wondering: Is the remedy worse than the symptoms?</p>
</blockquote>
<p id=”yui_3_3_0_1_1317568704325295″>This is a badly flawed question.  The framing of the question suggests that an austerity program is the remedy to deficits that pile up in an economic downturn.  It is not a remedy, it is an expression of free market fundamentalism.</p>
<p id=”yui_3_3_0_1_1317568704325295″>The US free market fundamentalists have a hybrid model, they love government spending that feeds corporations, they have no qualms about government spending as long as the spending is not committed to health care, education, food security.  There is a low profit margin in that stuff compared to weapons systems and war profiteering.  The “austerity” program of US free market fundamentalists is not about austerity, it is about class warfare.  The shift of wealth from the many to the few that has occurred over the past thirty years is not about rewarding the most productive folks in our society, it is about class warfare. Top tax rates of 70% plus did not prevent the US economy from growing and adding jobs.  Obama was correct when he said, it’s not class warfare, it’s math.   And a little history.</p>
The website of G. William Domhoff (sociology professor, UC Santa Cruz) seems to have a lot  of good information.  <a href=”http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html”>Who rules America?</a> Is that a rhetorical question?
<p style=”text-align: center”><img src=”http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/01/Gini_since_WWII.svg/800px-Gini_since_WWII.svg.png” title=”Wiki Commons GNU license” alt=”Wiki Commons GNU license” vspace=”3″ width=”582″ border=”2″ height=”422″ hspace=”3″ /></p>
<p style=”text-align: center” align=”right”> </p>
<p style=”text-align: center” align=”left”>hmm..  we are up there is the top three or four countries of income disparity.  Brazil, US, and China, UK going for more disparity, Bulgaria, Norway, Mexico trending for less disparity.</p>
<p style=”text-align: center”> </p>

The 2012 Election Looks Ugly, Can Things Get Worse?

Not just the candidates or the lack of political will to create public policy to turn the country in the right direction, but the election apparatus itself just got even less respectable.

The Brad Blog carried the story recently that the Diebold voting machines can be easily hacked remotely.   There seems to be some question as to whether the remote control parts to hack the machines will cost $16 or $26, but either way, the technology for controlling election outcomes is dropping dramatically and it makes a person wonder why the campaigns are collecting and spending so much money.  This is money the “job creators” need to turn the country around.

2012 will be an election year when we see unleashed corporate influence in the elections thanks to Citizens United. We will see “new and improved” voter suppression tactics. We have increasing numbers of potential voters who have no “permanent” address other than 100 Street St., State of Economic Misery, Planet Earth. They may have reason to vote for change, but it is not certain that they have reason to believe that change is available at the voting booth, so the building occupation movement may be seen as a truly primary election on the US economy and the rules of the game.

Memo to Rick Perry

Your state is on fire,Wiki Commons, courtesy Buddpaul, boat launch to Lake Palestine the drought is causing rivers and lakes to dry up and that could go on for a long time.  Meanwhile, ice shelves in Canada are collapsing faster than expected and these collapses will serve to speed global warming at ocean surface absorbs more solar radiation than ice surface which reflects solar radiation to an extent.  And Britain has recorded the hottest day ever in October.  You might want to revisit your belief system that global warming is not happening.  You are on the wrong side of history with this one.

You might want to walk that position back a wee bit.