Down the Ballot

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Oregon Connection: Geraldine Ferraro

Group of Mondale/Ferraro buttons mostly from Oregon.
Long before the campaigns of Palin and Clinton there was Gerry Ferraro. She hit the ground running when she was nominated for Vice President of the United States at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Fransisco. It was about time. The Democratic Party was taking in an increasing number of women voters by 1984. Yet we had lagged behind even the Libertarian party in nominating a woman for high office. The number of women candidates for state and federal office had been steadily increasing with each election. It was only a matter of time before someone like a Shirley Chisholm, Bella Azbug, Elizabeth Holtzman, or a Barbara Jordan made it to the big stage as a nominee.

1984 was the first year the Democratic Party required state delegations be gender balanced and women made up 54% of delegates.One of those delegates was Liz Toy, a long time Salem political activist. She shared with me some of her thoughts on the convention and what she thought of Ferraro as a candidate and political operator at the convention. She was elected as a delegate for Gary Hart (who won the Oregon primary in 1984). 
 I was seated in the alternate section for the Ferraro speech ---tradition to let the alternates sit in the delegate section for their candidate so there was a swap of credentials. Actually it was nice -- less ambient noise and not as bright. Oregon had primo seats-- center section, about 60 rows back, right in front of the camera emplacement. But that meant looking at those lights which were roughly what they use for football night games. 

Don't let anyone kid you---she was going to be the VP nominee no matter who was the nominee for Pres. And that was up in the air for about 24 hours before the vote. One thing most people don't know about Geraldine is that she was a good soldier, even enforcer. Virgin Islands delegation was behind us, and one of their delegates wanted to vote for Jackson. She was pulled off the floor into a special meeting with Geraldine and others who told her they could remove her as a delegate if she didn't vote as she was elected to vote, for Mondale. Beautiful woman from the VI was in tears when she came back.  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Trek Mystery: Crewman Obama?

The first Trek Mystery offered today comes from Star Trek the Animated series. In the episode the Time Trap, the crew of the Enterprise and a Klingon battleship commanded by Kor are stuck in a Saragossa sea of space. They must combine forces to escape or spend the rest of their lives stuck with each other. A plan to escape is formulated by Mr. Spock and the Klingons mostly go along with it because they're not as smart as Spock.

Simply escaping is not enough for this animated Star Trek classic; the Klingons must find a way to destroy the Enterprise as they escape the time trap. They do this by planting a pill in a computer. Don't even ask. In the process of this two Klingons are caught in a restricted area and brought to the bridge by Crewman Bell. He's one of the many redshirts on the Enterprise. What's the mystery here you ask? Crewman Bell looks suspiciously similar to American President Barack Obama. Take a look for yourself.
Crewman Bell or Crewman Obama?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vote By Mail Getting Easier in New Jersey?

Gloucester County Times reporter Jessica Beym reported today from Trenton that a bill is moving forward in the New Jersey State Senate to allow voters to sign up to vote by mail for all future general elections. Right now New Jersey law only allows voters to sign up for one years worth of elections at a time. 

Under New Jersey Senate Bill 2756 a voter would receive ballots by mail until they had failed to vote in four consecutive elections. At that time the county clerk is instructed to send notice to the voter to determine if they have changed their address. Voters would have until the 40th day before the next general election to respond. If they fail to respond they will be required to resubmit an application to vote by mail. Currently, they have to reapply every year.

In Oregon, the county clerk keeps sending you a ballot at your current location until you or the current occupant tells them you are no longer living at that location. Any time you register to vote your location is updated. If this becomes law, residents will need to tell the county clerk that they would like mail in ballots for all future general elections. The Oregon Secretary of State's office provides a great time line of the history of vote by mail in Oregon. You can see all the historic 'firsts' Oregon has had the privilege of marking in the vote by mail movement. 

What will basically be happening in New Jersey is a waiting game. Instead of just forcing everyone to vote by mail, the bills sponsors want to make the change gradually. Over time as more and more people discover the convenience of voting by mail. Fewer and fewer people will be showing up the polling stations. These polling stations cost the government money and hopefully once New Jersey lawmakers start to see they are wasting money by keeping so many polling stations open they will take the final steps and automatically mail ballots to every registered voter. Right now the process is very tedious having to reapply for vote by mail every year. Hopefully this will fix that.

Senator James Beach (D)  and Senator Ray Lesniak (D) were the sponsors of S2756. Senator Linda Greenstein is a co-sponsor.

The bill cleared the New Jersey Senate 24-13. Now it moves onto the New Jersey Assembly.

For more information on the national vote by mail movement visit The Vote By Mail Project

Go Screen Yourself: 3rd Rock from the Sun Season 1

3rd Rock from the Sun Season 1 DVD cover
This science fiction show takes place on Earth, in the fictional Ohio town of Rutherford. Extraterrestrials take the form of human beings in attempt to better understand human culture.  Aliens invade a small town in the middle of nowhere part of Ohio? Only hilarity can ensue from this odd ball comedy. The show ran on television from 1996-2001, making it another one of those fantastic science fiction shows from the 1990s. 3rd Rock from the Sun had its strengths and weaknesses. One weakness was the lack of more traditional sci-fi trappings.

Sure it wasn't heavy in the blinking lights, grand special effects or inane technobabble department that so often accompanies a sci-fi television show, but that's ok; sometimes you just need a goofy premise to make something work. Where 3rd Rock lacked in traditional elements it more than made up for in humor. The alien family at the center of this show were the Solomons (Dick, Harry, Sally and Tommy). Each week viewers would tune to see what mishaps would occur because of their lack of understanding Earth customs and how they constantly try to keep their real identities secret. This proved to be one of the great strengths. The casting was immensely important to the success of the show.

Dick, played by John Lithgow, was the High Commander in charge of the mission. He went to work for the local university as a physics professor. Sally, played by Kristen Johnson was the security officer and took on the role of Dick's attractive sister who mostly stayed at home and kept an eye on Harry played by French Stewart who was sort of the alien in charge of communicating with 'The Big Giant Head' (the boss of them all back on homeworld). Then there was Tommy played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Tommy was the oldest alien stuck in the youngest human body which made for some great jokes throughout the season. With most ensemble casts the supporting players added a great life to the show. Seinfeld's Wayne Knight, SNL alum Jane Curtain, and several others rounded out a great cast. The chemistry between Curtain and Lithgow was fantastic. Following their insane relationship always left you wondering each season if they would  make it.

One of my favorite episodes from the first season is number three and is called Dick's First Birthday. Where Dick has his first birthday and realizes he is getting old. A scene towards the beginning has the group sitting on the roof and Tommy complaining about his health class. He tells them he is learning about human anatomy. The crew exclaims "YOU HAVE AN OWNERS MANUAL!".

Most seasons ended with some sort of announcement from the Big Giant Head, played by William Shatner. In several episodes Shatner actually shows up as the Big Giant Head. The conflict around these season cliffhangers usually involved the Big Giant Head being troubled by their lack of progress. One or two seasons of this may have been ok, but to end every season on this premise started to get old quick.

If you like goofy, silly, witty humor you will enjoy 3rd Rock from the Sun. The show had a good following and lasted another five seasons. The first season of 20 episodes garnered the best ratings for the show and every concept was new and fresh. You can find all six seasons on Netflix. All six have also been released on DVD.

Here's an intro sequence from early on in the show. Happy viewing!

Star Wars PSAs

Here are some cool Public Service Announcements. The first two are Star Wars PSAs warning of the dangers of Smoking and Drinking and Driving.

More cool PSAs as soon as we find them for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Constituency Meeting with Congressman Wu

Today I had the great fortune to start my spring break at a meeting with Congressman David Wu from Oregon's 1st Congressional District of which I am a resident. I signed up for this meeting because the idea seemed sorta cool. How often do you get to sit down with your representative in congress and talk about anything YOU want to talk about? It was an opportunity I had to take and in the end I am glad I did.

Our meeting took place at the Tigard Public Works building.  A very convenient location as I live just over the other side of 99W,  a quick five minute drive from the house. Congressman Wu and his staff score double points for having the meeting so close to home. When I got there I noticed a lot of camera crews and reporters. It looked like Channels 8 and 6 were there in addition to several print media. A friendly reporter from the Oregonian came up to me and asked me why I was there and how I might be contacted if she had questions for me. I told her I was there to talk to Congressman Wu about education related issues.

They had us waiting in a foyer to the public works building. People slowly started making their way to the building for their meeting. I was third on the list.When I entered the conference room I was greeted by Congressman Wu and his field representative. They both took notes while I was talking. We talked about my work with the debate team I coach and about the great speech and debate programs we have in the area. I then broached the subject of textbooks.

Starting in 2003 when I first entered college there was a lot of news coming out of his office about the high price of textbooks and that if we want to ensure young people can afford to attend college we need to do a better job at controlling costs. I basically wanted an update on those efforts; how successful have we been with keeping costs under control since the passage of the Higher Education Affordability Act of 2008. He said he and his staff would prepare a summary of actions taken since the bill was passed and would follow up with me shortly.

I also used this as an opportunity to complain about the direct mail pieces I get from his office. Don't get me wrong they have some great information in them and sometimes even have constituent surveys attached to them. When those come I try my best to fill them out. Yet it would be nice to get a mailer about stuff happening in congress that affects people in my demographic group, folks who are between 18 and 30. I'm not asking for a special mailer every time, but I think one should be tossed in from time to time in the rotation of constituency outreach. 

All in all, I thought these direct face to face meetings were a great idea. It was interesting watching the press at the event hover over everyone and trying to find out what they wanted to talk about. I sorta got the impression that when I told them I was there to talk about education issues they became disinterested. Clearly not the story they wanted to tell. The sad part of all this is that we would have a much better democracy if the media paid this much attention to members of congress all the time, instead of just when something controversial happens.

 Wu and crew get a thumbs up from me today. Next time though, shoot for ten minute meetings I think it will improve things for Congressman Wu and constituents who attend.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ebay Find # 8: Nan Wood Honeyman with Roosevelt

7/8" Roosevelt Coattail lito Pin
This is another pin from Oregon presidential politics, only this pin is from the 1930s. Most likely this pin is from 1936 when Nan Wood Honeyman won a seat in Congress representing Oregon's 3rd Congressional district. She also had the great distinction of being the first woman to represent the people of Oregon in the United States Congress.

Born in New York, her family soon moved to Portland, Oregon. Her father was the famous Charles Erskine Scott Wood. She attended school in New York and became life long friends of Eleanore Roosevelt. It was this great friendship that would launch her career in Congress. In 1936 she ran as a staunch advocate of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. Winning her seat proved easy; keeping it became a whole different task.

While in congress she became a ardent advocate of the New Deal and of the Bonneville  Dam project. Being so close to Roosevelt may have lead to her political downfall as she openly supported his court packing scheme. This lead not only to a primary challenger in 1938, but also state senator and liberal Republican Homer Angell in the general. On election day she would lose by a very slim margin of around 2,500 votes. She was not alone though, 78 other Democrats also lost their seats that day. In 1940 she would try to win it back and again lose by another close count.

After these defeats she served in a variety of other public roles from State Senator to Collector of Customs. Eventually she moved to California where she died in 1970. For more details on Nan Wood Honeyman you can visit her profile on Women in Congress

This pin turns up on occasion on ebay or auction. The price varies substantially depending on how much the seller knows about the pin. Valued between $25-$50 dollars, though if you wait long enough you can find it on ebay for under $15 or even a lot less. It was made by Green Duck, which was a company that has created many political buttons over the years. Creative has a wonderful article about them so I won't repeat it here.

A button like this appeals to many different kinds of people. It appeals to Oregon button collectors like myself. Women in congress collectors, Roosevelt collectors, coattail collectors and yes even Green Duck button collectors. A great button for any of those collections. Pins from such obscure candidates take some time to find their way out the old boxes and dressers they are kept in and onto the great marketplaces of commerce.

Honeyman Re-Election Ad 1938
I have also included a scan of a campaign ad taken from a Democratic Party of Oregon Picnic Program from 1938.  "An Experienced Democratic Congressional Leader".

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recall Wave?

Alex Altman in his blog Swampland on reported today on the first casualty of the massive wave of recalls that could come our way in 2011. Oregon has already seen it's share of recalls in 2009 where some Clatsop County Commissioners survived and some faltered over the LNG issue. Read more about them at Ballotpeida. Today's unfortunate elected official to be recalled was Carlos Alvarez, the mayor of Miami-Dade county in Florida.

Here is what happened according to Altman,

In the wake of the housing crisis, Alvarez raised property taxes to restock government coffers, orchestrated a deal to put public money toward the Florida Marlins' new stadium, and cut public salaries 5%. At the same time, he was tooling around in a spiffy Beamer purchased with his county car allowance and boosting the pay of top aides.
 The last thing you ever want to do as a public official is appear to be a hypocrite or actually turn out to be one. A Beamer? Really? Does the county staff have no oversight in how public officials spend public money? Alvarez was elected as a Republican to reform county government. Turns out Alvarez was the one reformed into the very political ilk he ran against in 2004.

In Oregon we are the masters of the recall. The modern day recall method in the United States was born in Oregon, right here, in 1908. In the past 103 years, 18 other states have also adopted recall laws for elected officials. Oregon is also one of 9 states that allows for the recall of our members of Congress, yet so far no one is sure if the federal government would actually allow Oregonians to do that as no state has actually tried to recall a member of Congress.

Protesters return to the Wisconsin State Capitol the day after Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) signed the bill that eliminated almost all collective bargaining for most public workers at the state Capitol in Madison Wisconsin March 12, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck
 Ballotpeida keeps a list of recall efforts on their website. For 2011 we can add 16 more recall campaigns from Wisconsin. Those pesky State Senators who decided to move ahead with Governor Walker's plan to strip state employees of their collective bargaining rights are all facing recall efforts. This could be the most organized recall effort in the history of our country. Never before has their been such an organized effort to oust this many state officials in one jurisdiction. The organizers of the recall efforts in Wisconsin need to proceed carefully. If they come off looking mean and out for revenge they will lose for what happened in the capitol they will most certainly lose.

In the coming weeks they must use public opinion (which I do believe is on their side) and the law (which will be figured out soon) as their allies in the effort. Explain why what happened in the State House cannot not be allowed to happen again. Wayne Morse, who is from Wisconsin originally, once said, "The paramount purpose of our constitutional system of government is to promote the general welfare of the people-- not just SOME of the people". Some of the people do benefit from the removal of collective bargaining rights, but all the people will ultimately suffer as government engages in the race to the bottom that has already ruined the private sector for many workers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

If You Had 7 Million Dollars.....

I was reading an article today out of Reuters that had discovered that millionaires believe one needs more than $7 million dollars to be considered 'Rich'. They reported on the findings of a Fidelity Investments survey which found that of the millionaires surveyed, most believed that one must have more than $7.5 million dollars to be truly rich. 

The average age of the typical respondent to the survey was 56, with a net wealth of $3.5 million dollars; $3.5 million dollars and one does not consider themselves 'rich'? These folks have investments, assets, and more importantly economic security. Which is more than I can say for myself. Apparently, if I was a millionaire according to this survey, I wouldn't be too worried. The millionaires surveyed expect the economy to start coming around by the end of this year. Come on, this is the same group of people that can afford to buy $1.1 million dollar comic books in our current economy. Things clearly been haven't too bad for them. 

Do I feel for these inferior feeling millionaires? Not in the least. Not when too many people are struggling to make it by working pay check to pay check. I do wonder what I would do with $7.5 million dollars if I came into possession of it. 

I think first and foremost I would make sure my immediate family was caught up on all those big bills that seem to plague us. With just under half a million dollars I could do so much for my family and have plenty left over. All student loans in my immediate family would be gone, all the credit card bills, car loans, back doctor bills, I'd even do something nice for my landlord and fix up the backyard so when it rains the water doesn't roll down the slope of the yard and create a mud swamp in the corner. 

After getting rid of all the debt, I'd turn attention to my parents and get them a house somewhere. Possibly in the woods or at the beach. They'd get a million dollars of my 7.5. If you're going to be a millionaire, why not make other people millionaires too! My sister would get a million too even though she constantly torments me. So let's see I'm down to 5.2 million now...still loads to go. The next thing I'd do is buy a Kennedy Compound type place on the coast. Give everyone in the family a key and a calendar to plan vacations. I'd also have to have a Delorean decked out like the time machine from Back to the Future. Hey come on, like you wouldn't? 

The remainder would be invested for purposes of my continual economic security and the economic security of causes I deem important. Issues and groups near and dear to my heart like the Planetary Society, LCV, SOLV, APIC, and don't forget all those ballot initiative and progressive causes and candidates out there. Needless to say $7.5 million dollars is a lot of money, probably too much for me as I can't even think of how to spend the majority of  it. Perhaps I'd be better off with just $3 million, it seems I at least know how to use that for some good.

Then again, I could just waste it all on 1 million dollar comic books. What would you do with 7.5 Million dollars? Would you invest in the tricky market? Would you buy things for friends and family to make their lives easier? Would you save for the future? Tell us.

Go Screen Yourself: Babylon 5 Season 1

It seems technology is changing faster than we ourselves can change these days. Last night I sat back and started to think about my television habits ( or lack of television habits). Rarely do I find myself remote flipping to random stations hoping to come across something unusual. I have become a Netflix junkie. I even got my father addicted. Why wait for a tv show to come on at a certain time, when you can watch a favorite instantly! At $8 dollars a month you get a lot of choices.

Perhaps you too are looking for things to watch online or some new(old) show to get into for a while. Maybe I can be of assistance.  Let's look at the first Go Screen Yourself review of Babylon 5 Season 1. This program is available online at Netflix and also on dvd at a quality retailer of digital media. I tend to favor Science Fiction, Comedies, Television, Documentaries, and Animated shows. That's not to say I won't review something outside those; I just felt it fair to warn you in advance.

DVD Season 1 Cover with Londo, Sinclair and G'Kar
The 90s was a decade full of great science fiction shows on television. B5 was one of the greats from that decade. This is the same decade that had three Star Trek spin-offs, shows like Sliders, Sea Quest, Far Scape, Lexx, 7-Days, Stargate, Third Rock from the Sun and X-Files. There was something for everyone and Babylon 5 just kept getting better and better with each season. The first season was not A+, but the cast and crew were just starting to get a feel for the characters and the vision Joe Michael Straczynski was trying to build. Some things worked others didn't. The Soulhunters episode was really out there. 

My favorite episodes from the first 22 are By Any Means Necessary, where dock workers go on strike. Love a show with good union and labor issues are explored. Another one of note is called Believers, where alien parents bring their sick child to Dr. Franklin. All the child needs is a simple operation to be saved, but the religion of the family prevents him from operating. Really great moral dilemma presented for Dr. Franklin and the audience.  Lots of good classic science fiction writing, bringing current issues to light in the context removed from us to make it safe to talk about. Every year there are one or two cases in court involving the safety/health of a child coming in conflict with the family faith.

My favorite character from the series was Peter Jurasik's Londo. Season 1 Londo was especially nice because he hadn't become so lifeless yet. If you want to see a tragic character transformation, watch the entire series and pay attention to Londo's character. In Season 1 though, the character had such life to it and Jurasik kept me tuning in for more.  Always happy to have a drink, attend a night club or try his luck at the casino. Don't forget the hair!

If you think the future will be just as imperfect as life is now, only with more blinking lights Babylon 5 Season 1 certainly gives you a future closer to what we live in now. After all Commander Sinclair still has to report to the Senate Sub-Committee that is in charge of funding Babylon 5...does it sound all that far fetched to have members of congress one day phoning the director of operations at a lunar command base?

Happy Viewing, 'Flixing, or downloading (yeah you know who you are) Here's the first Season title sequence. Great score and great use of the then infant CGI, which really helped the show standout in the 90s.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ebay Find #7 Oregon "Reagan Country"

1980 2.25" Oregon Reagan Country Pin
It seems fitting that in the year of Ronald Reagan's 100th Birthday I share the most recent Reagan pin I found on ebay.  Ronald Reagan had many campaigns for public office between 1968 and 1984. Four presidential campaigns in '68, '76, '80 and '84 plus two campaigns for governor of California in 1966 and 1970. This pin is from his 1980 campaign for president in Oregon.

Reagan performed rather well in Oregon and in 1984 he was the last Republican presidential nominee to win the state's electoral votes. In 1980 he won 48% of the vote and in 1984 won 55% of the vote. During the last hours of the 1980 campaign all three major presidential candidates President Jimmy Carter,  former Governor Reagan, and Congressman John Anderson made quick stops for airport campaign rallies. Carter held his rally at the airport to 2,000 supporters and Governor Reagan held his rally to about 500 supporters at the Holiday Inn. Both emphasized the importance of Oregon in the election and reached out for votes. According an article from the Eugene Register Guard, Reagan used the faults of Jimmy Carter as his main draw to Oregonians at the rally stating," He gave us government as good as Jimmy Carter and that isn't good enough".  Which played off Carter's words four years earlier of "...a government as good as it's people...".

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Wayne Morse Interview found on Youtube


Here is a neat new interview found on Youtube featuring Oregon Senator Wayne Morse after he became a Democrat in 1956. It talks about him breaking with the Republican party and his problems with the Eisenhower Administration.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Political Games: Mr. President (1967, 1971)

In the past I have written about the games of politics. Not the metaphorical games, but the actual games. These are games that are best played with friends who enjoy a good laugh at themselves and our political process. Over the years I have acquired many different games that simulate our electoral process in all its' glory. Let me share with you a few of them. Mind you some of these are really great games and others...well playing once is probably enough for most of us. Let's start with my favorite: Mr. President.

Courtesy of BoardGameGeek
This game was designed in the late 1960s by  Jack Carmichael a game designer working for Carmichael Lynch Advertising. He submitted his prototype to 3M Games and a political classic was born. Two editions of the game came out, one in 1967 just in time for the holiday shoppers and the attention the Nixon-Humphrey national campaigns that year. The second version came out just in time for the Nixon-McGovern race.

Mr. President is good for 2-4 players. You guessed it; one person plays the presidential nominee and another person plays the VEEP nominee. One may play as either the Republicans or Democrats. The players vie for four regions of the country and place cards with votes on them into a particular slot. Once everyone has one more cards you count the votes. Simple and easy to learn. A usual game takes about an hour.

Courtesy of BoardGameGeek
All the candidates are fictional and very fitting for the time period in which the game was created during. They all have varying skills and attributes. These can hurt and help you during your campaign. There is even a candidate from Oregon!  His name is L. Eugene Beaumont, the Governor of Oregon.

As one of the 3M Bookshelf games the portability of this game a big benefit and makes for an excellent travel game.  Aside from a few minor issues with making campaign stops and missing turns if you pull the wrong card this is a very good game. Being vintage is also a plus as it allows some of us whom are a bit younger to play in the pre-1968 electorate where the South was in the hands of the Democrats, and the Midwest and East was more or less Republican. If you ever get the chance you should sit down for an hour and have a go at running for President of the United States.

There are not many differences between the 1967 and 1971 versions. Regardless of version your basic game play is the same.  Next Political Games post we will look at a computer game called, 'The Political Machine'.

Gameplay Courtesy of BoardGameGeek

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wu Comes to Washington County

Congressman David Wu has served the residents of the first congressional district since 1998. I can still recall the first time I met Congressman Wu. It was at Tigard High School in my government and civics class in a talk put on by the ever informative and thoughtful Mr. Calpin. Congressman Wu talked to us about the issues and about being our representative and fighting for us in Washington D.C. Over the last nine or ten years I have had many opportunities to meet with my congressman and discuss the issues I thought were important and to give and get feedback on ideas.

Tonight he came before the Washington County Democrats and apologized to us for the last several weeks of media attention he has garnered for his actions both personal and professionally. We very rarely hear our public officials apologize or admit being wrong about anything. Often we are told that private matters are just that and they shouldn't have to apologize for actions unrelated to constituents. I think Congressman Wu did the right thing about coming forward and apologizing. It takes a lot of courage to apologize publically in our day and age.

 Living in the age where it seems the public has a right to know everything; I feel Mr. Wu has been very straightforward with us without having to go into too much detail about his personal matters that are best left between him and his doctors. The question that I am left with is: Does Congress have an army of trained therapists and mental health specialists that are available to members when they feel the need to seek help? The U.S. Senate has a Chaplin. When matters of faith come up senators have someone on site to talk with. Perhaps there should be a therapist or counselor on site as well?

Many professions would probably benefit to healthier and more productive employees if they had regular access to mental health specialists. Think of the stress teachers, public safety workers, and yes even members of congress are having to cope with on a regular basis. These jobs are intensely public in nature, more so than many other professions. I hate to bring Star Trek up, but there was a reason Gene Roddenberry put a therapist on the Enterprise. Counselor Troi and her top notch team were responsible for looking after the mental well being of the crew of the Enterprise. How telling it is of the importance of a persons mental health that Troi was seated right next to the captain on the bridge instead of off on some lower deck far removed from sight.

We must be willing to stop judging individuals for seeking help. Wanting to be healthy cannot be perceived as being weak. Other members of congress have struggled with issues and have sought help of doctors. Congressman Wu mentioned former Congressman Patrick Kennedy last night. Mr. Kennedy has also struggled with his mental health, and he was a fine Representative for the people of Rhode Island. I was glad to hear that Congressman Wu will be working with Mr. Kennedy in the future on a wide variety of mental health issues that he left unfinished when he retired from Congress.

People will still have questions even after he is done apologizing.  I am sure some will bring this up in the next election. Politics are not nearly as forgiving as people are.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

More Delegates?

This Sunday I attended my first Democratic Party of Oregon State Central Committee Meeting as a delegate from Washington County. It was a fun meeting. While much of it focused on party business there were several agenda items that are worth sharing. I was very proud to see Co-Speaker Arnie Roblan address the delegation about the need to reconnect with the Oregon that has seen double digit unemployment since before the 'Great Recession' as it is being called.

This is the Oregon that those of us in the Willamette Valley, and Portland Metro area spend our spring and summer vacations in, communities that have not been able to rebound over the last two decades. Our party must begin to address the unemployment of rural Oregon. Co-Speaker Roblan made point to remind us that we all share common values even though we come from different places. How we accomplish the task of resurrecting rural Oregon will not be an easy one and there are no quick fixes.

The other item I thought worthy to note was that Oregon Democrats may be getting the largest number of delegates to a Democratic National Convention they have ever had. The draft plan that delegates saw this weekend would give Oregon 74 delegates and five alternates. This is the basic plan. There are potential for even more delegates. The DNC will grant a 20% bonus if Oregon keeps its primary in May. That would be ten more delegates bringing the total to 84.

There is even another opportunity to get Oregon Democrats more delegates. The DNC could allocate another ten delegates if we hold our primary with two other states in our region. 94 delegates to the Democratic National Convention would be pretty cool. This scenario is much harder to visualize than the first scenario. Getting other states to move a presidential primary is not an easy task. The front loading of our presidential primary process has caused some state parties to move up their primaries even earlier. It seems our political parties have learned the lesson and have started to give incentives to state parties like the bonus delegates being offered to Oregon. Besides who would be opposed to wanting to have more people at the party in Charlotte, North Carolina?  It isn't by set in stone, but it is the first draft. More news to come in the next few months.

All in all, it was a good meeting. I am looking forward to meeting and learning more about my fellow delegates in the coming months.