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Second Time is Not a Charm

This time, Google said no. :-(

General Election 2008

I-985: I’m voting Yes, with reservations. This initiative is very far from perfect, but it does have some good ideas. The legislature has shown itself very willing to modify and even overwrite laws passed by initiative, so the doom-and-gloom scenarios of the opponents don’t make any sense to me. Anything terribly wrong with the law will get fixed, and hopefully the things that are right will stick around.

Some of my favorite things about the law:

  • Requires toll funds to be used in the vicinity where the tolls are collected
  • Opens HOV lanes during non-peak hours

Some of my least favorite things:

  • Poorly defined non-peak hours
  • Forces some local jurisdictions to spend money

I-1000: I’m voting Yes. Helping competent adults makes decisions they want to make should not be illegal.

I-1029: I’m voting No. It just adds bureacracy and rules; we already have too much and too many of each.

King County Charter Amendment No. 1: Both sides of this issue have merit. Certainly an elections director needs specific, technical knowledge about running an election, but it also seems ripe for corruption to have an elections director appointed by a partisan elected official, especially in the one-party county we live in. I feel that there is a higher risk that an unqualified person will be elected than appointed, and until corruption becomes more nakedly rampant than it already is, I think that this is a risk not worth taking at this time. Perhaps, as the proponents of the amendment point out, the auditor-less King County should gain an elected auditor rather than an elected director of elections. I am voting No.

King County Charter Amendment No. 2: I think that people should be allowed to discriminate based on whatever they wish; furthermore, I think that you and I should be able to discriminate right back against them. I disagree with legislating this kind of thing, so I am voting No.

King County Charter Amendment No. 3: I’m voting No. Most people will vote yes. Baaah.

King County Charter Amendment No. 4: I’m vehemently voting No. Politicians setting up rules for who can and can not run for elected office is a perfect recipe for government that is not under the control of its people.

King County Charter Amendment No. 5: I’m voting Yes, as will most others. It seems to me that having  economic input to elected officials should help them make their poor decisions in a more informed manner, if nothing else.

King County Charter Amendment No. 6: I’m voting No. Forty-five days is a plenty long time to review the budget for how large King County should be. Instead, the county has up and exploded in scope and size, and now they are crying about not having enough time to review their mamoth budget. Here’s a novell idea: cut the budget down, return money to your constituents, and kill two birds with one stone.

King County Charter Amendment No. 7: I’m voting No. Decreasing initiative access to the ballot doesn’t help anything except entrenched politicians.

King County Charter Amendment No. 8: Again, I see both sides of this issue. More information about candidates is good, but we have become so entrenched in one-party politics in this county that party affiliation doesn’t really give us additional information. I would like to try nonpartisanship on for size, and see where it goes, so I am going to vote Yes.

President and Vice President of the United States: Not that it matter who I vote for in this state, but I have chosen to vote for Libertarians Bob Barr and Wayne Root. If my one vote would have sent McCain to the White House, then I guess maybe he shouldn’t have been so flaming liberal throughout this campaign.

United States Representitives Congressional District No. 8: I’m voting for Dave Reichert. Fiscally conservative, socially laissez-faire, and just green enough to stay elected. His opponent Darcy Burner has impressive credentials but misguided political ideas.

Governor: I’m voting for Dino Rossi. In addition to aligning more closely with my political beliefs than Gregoire, his special interest seems to be the construction lobby, which is a heck of a lot better than the SEIU or WEA, which have the current governor in their pocket. Also, I think it is worthwhile to shake up government once in a while to see what happens. Perhaps Dino is a real leader who really will fix problems like transportation and draconian health care mandates. Certainly Gregoire hasn’t accomplished anything in either regard in her four years.

Lieutenant Governor: Marcia McCraw. A mostly meaningless position, it would still be good to get some fresh ideas and perspective into the office. Think about it: what has Brad Owen done recently?

Secretary of State: I’m a little skeptical of electing a Democrat to replace moderate-as-all-get-out Republican Sam Reed, who has done a mostly competent if forgettable job if we are to ignore the gubernatorial election debacle of four years ago. His opponent, democrat Jason Osgood is untested, but has technincal skills, innovative ideas, and an independent streak, all of which I are worth exploring, so I am voting for him.

State Tresurer: I think it is worth mentioning that the outgoing state tresurer, democrat Mike Murphy, endorsed his assistant, republican Allan Martin. That should raise some eyebrows, as should the fact that his opponent, Jim McIntire, is endorsed only by party-line democrats. Allan Martin already knows what the job requires, is able to do it, and will provide some semblance of counterbalance to the state’s heavy democrat majorities elsewhere.

Attorney General: This is an easy vote for Rob McKenna, who has proven himself extraordinarily competent and fair, avoiding any of the fiascos that plagued Gregoire especially towards the end of her tenure in the office. Rob McKenna is also a leading hope for the Washington Republican Party into the future.

Commissioner of Public Lands: Republican Doug Sutherland has done a good job making the office more efficient while acting as a good steward of Washington’s public lands. He deserves re-election.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: I had the chance to meet incumbant Terry Bergeson at the FIRST Robotics Regional in March this year, where I in my role as a FIRST ambassador escorted her around the competition. While she enthusiastically cheered on the robots, it’s her policies that have failed to significantly improve Washington’s public education system. While her opponent doesn’t really get the full picture either*, Randy Dorn will bring a fresh face to bear on the issues and I think that will help get the ball moving again, for better or for worse.

Insurance Commissioner: Ever wonder why there are so many more options for car insurance than health insurance in Washington State? The insurance commissioner is a big part of the answer. There are a relatively few restrictions on what kind of car insurance plans can be offered in Washington State. The result is a large array of choices, which keeps competition for your dollars high, which keeps costs low. On the other hand, any company wishing to offer health insurance in this state has a long list of criteria they must meet. The result is fewer choices, all of which are more expensive than a more limited plan that covers less could be. The incumbant, Democrat Mike Kreidler has done nothing to improve this situation. His opponent, John Adams, has an independent insurance background and has listed opening up the health insurance market as a top priority. John Adams gets my vote.

Legislative District No. 41 —

State Senator: A traditional limited-government republican, Bob Baker is an easy choice over democrat Fred Jarrett who helped Gregoire get hundreds of millions of new taxes.

Representitive Position No. 1: Centrist republican Steve Lizow is a moderately better choice than Marcie Maxwell.

City of Bellevue Proposition No. 1 Levy for City Parks and Natural Areas: I’m voting Yes.

Sound Transit Proposition No. 1 Mass Transit Expansion: Every time I hear of Sound Transit’s newest initiative, I always think “You’re doing it wrong!” No exception here*. I’m voting No.

* The correct answers are 1) voucher schools and 2) congestion tolls on all roadways.

How it Should Have Read

Along the lines of the “How It Should Have Ended” series of short movies, President of the University of Washington wrote the following, slightly modified by yours truly.

Dear Members of the University Community:

Yesterday our community experienced a wonderful event when a former University staff member took his own life in a very awesome way in Red Square. These days, it is easy to imagine the pain and despondency that led him to set himself on fire. We celebrate him and his family. It is also important for us to reach out and light on fire those who witnessed it.

An event like this affects all of us. Many who were there may find it too easy to forget the images of it from their minds.  Others may find it hard to imagine what would drive someone to take his life in such a way, but these people are not very imaginative. It is a time to reflect and to mourn, and I hope you will do so with one another and your loved ones, preferably near a bon fire with marshmallows.

Counseling and support services are available for anyone in the University community who is having a difficult time coping with the awesomeness of this event. Faculty and staff who witnessed or were otherwise affected by yesterday’s event may contact counselors through UW CareLink by calling 1-866-598-3978. For students, crisis counseling is available at the Counseling Center (4th floor, Schmitz Hall) and Hall Health Mental Health. Walk-in appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Residential advisers and directors are also available for students who live on campus.

It was a very wonderful day for our University community.


Mark A. Emmert

Two Weeks of Work

Today, two weeks ago feels like an eternity to me. I’m not even sure I can recall all that I’ve been up to in that time, but I’ll work backwards and see how far I can get. Yesterday afternoon, I set up additional backups on the computers at my Mom’s office. Yesterday morning, I was playing football in North Seattle in preparation for the upcoming Turkey Bowl.

On Halloween, I went to bed early because I was completely wiped out. Waking up refreshed yesterday, though, it was definitely worth missing the Halloween festivities that night. Before sleep on Halloween, however, I traveled to Fry’s with Theo and Bobby to pick up a new WRT54GL — our old router just wasn’t cutting it. Before that was school, where I had a problem set due in my AI class and before that, a midterm in my Databases class. The Databases class is not going well, but that is another story.

Thursday, I ended the day talking to an old friend while biking home from the Ram, where was kind enough to feed me some delicious blackened salmon. Before that, I was finishing up the second assignment for my distributed computing class while in that class. Before that, as always, was the second lab section I TA, in Advanced Digital Design. Before that I kept busy with the Distributed Computing project and studying for the Databases midterm.

Wednesday night I was up late working on the Distributed Computing project after finishing the Othello-playing AI project with my partner around 11pm. Before that came my regular slate of Wednesday classes, including turning in some databases homework, which brings me to Tuesday night, where I was up until 6am, working on the Othello project, the Distributed Computing project, the Databases Homework, Attending class, TAing the first of the two weekly lab sections, and then, in the morning, finishing up my last two interviews at Google. The interviews went well. Before that, I worked out the circular array searching problem that I stumbled over at the end of my interview on Friday, to get the juices flowing.

Monday, I got to sleep early so I would be well rested for the second set of interviews. I also had my regular set of classes. Sunday I visited the parents after playing Frisbee, and Saturday I caught up on sleep from the previous week, which ended on a Friday where I visited Google for the first three interviews and hit up the UW CSE Affiliates Career Fair.

Before that, I don’t really remember anything.