Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sunday Digest

What a speacial pleasure to wake up, in February no less, to the sound of bird chirping softly, sun filtering through the blinds and the warm snuggliness of your bed. Even better, rolling over to discover it's only 7:42. 7:42! What a great day so far.

The last week has been pretty full, and I have had several items I wanted to blog about, but I have put them off. Here's a digest of some recent thoughts that spans a range of topics:

The Academy Awards: My full wrap up of tonight's gala should come later this week. Topics to watch -- Chris Rock's performance, if any leading lady gets bitchy after she loses to Hilary Swank, how long the Ronald Reagan clip is in the compilation of dead Hollywood people, if I fall asleep because the ceremony is so dang long. Oh yeah, if "Million Dollar Baby" wins Best Picture. It better.

Eastern Washington, The State: Bob Morton, a state legislator from the hinterlands of northeastern Washington, pulled his annual stunt: He tried to get Washington to split into two states. The twist this year: A legislator from King County, which contains Seattle, said, in essence, Go then. We're better off without you anyway. Western Washington sends a bunch of cash to eastern Washington in the form of taxes spent on roads, etc. Do we really want to rank 51st in everything? Look, everyone knows this split isn't going to happen unless Tom DeLay gets to the U.S. Senate. It would mean the Repubs get a couple R Senators. Big deal. Maybe it could be a compromise for D.C. statehood. Now there's a plan.

I love the Internet: Saturday night was happenin' for me. Did my taxes -- online. Filed my FAFSA (student aid for my graduate degree) -- online. I love that! I spent just about four hours doing everything. By the way, I have a handsome overpayment that I expect returned to my bank account soon, so I need to figure how to spend it. I think I could have had more (a deduction for education-related books and I forgot to include some of my professional subscriptions), but I'll just consider that a bonus to Ol' Uncle Sam. We need it after GWB raided the Treasury in his one-two punch of "refunds" and occupation of Iraq.

Whistleblowers: The Chelan County PUD (the utility that uses hydro power to generate electricity and sells it to us cheaply) is working on a new whistleblower policy. Basically, the general counsel investigates complaints now. But she is widely seen as working for the management and commissioners. She says she works for the people. Riiiiight. That's why two significant complaints from mid-level managers resulted in no validity; one was fired and the other threatened. Some objected to how much it would cost to have an outside attorney investigate. The Wenatchee World editorialized: "One wonders why no similar eyebrow was raised when the computer project went $10 million over budget. And since when has the PUD balked at spending money on lawyers? It's difficult to find a law firm that doesn't represent the PUD." Touché.

Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, et al.: Dudes, we know you did it. Steroids, that is. Cop to it, shut up and move on. You're starting to look as pathetic as Pete Rose.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Pope Watch!

Someone has finally done it. Yes, there is a Blog to keep abreast of the status of Pope John Paul II and his ailing health. And it wasn't even me.

Pope Watch

I would just point out, that longtime friends and confidantes might remember that I made this suggestion way back in 2002 when the pope was traveling throughout Latin America beatifying what seemed like every other Catholic. I was working at the local newspaper filling in on the coipy desk and would see the dozens of images and bulletins that would move on the news wires. The picture of the drooling pope was not the jaunty John Paul II we had all come to know and expect. Each bulletin led with his current health, explaining he had barely been able to withstand the sweltering heat or that an associate had to finish his homily. Each day's edition had some pope news of his visits to various holy sites and the throngs of the faithful that turned out to see him and bouy his energy.

Tongue in cheek, I suggested, since the newspaper's readership included a sizable Catholic population, that we publish a daily account of the pope's health, his actions and his itinerary. We could call it Pope Watch. Later, I came up with the very catchy "Miter Meter" but it never caught on.

Maybe it's time to pitch the idea again.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Moved by 'The Chosen'

President's Day Weekend. In past years, this weekend has marked my re-emergence from the cold wrap of winter, where I finally get to leave this town and take another long drag on the big city. This year was different in that I had already made two trips to Seattle in January, so President's Day Weekend was to serve more as a respite from the daily life and a chance to just sigh.

I saw the promotional flyer for "The Chosen" staged at the Seattle Repertory Theater, and I was not immediately engaged. I know that the book is in our school curriculum, though it's not one I am assigned to teach. I own a copy and even started reading it once, only to be distracted and leave it unfinished. But I felt like it would be an enjoyable experience to see this stage version this weekend.

I am glad I did.

The staging was excellent -- from the sets and props to the lighting and movements. This show was worth all $27 I paid (and even grabbed a fantastic seat that hed been turned in just before curtain). It's the tale of two boys from different sides of the same coin -- different worlds just five blocks away -- has so much relevance today. It's the story of a father who wants so much for his son to learn compassion for people's pain that he barely speaks to the son in order to make his son look inside to his own soul. It's the story of a boy who thinks he wants a world that is defined by logic and numbers but comes to love scripture and the ability to help people.

The second act was emotionally moving and powerful. Although "The Chosen" was adapted for the stage from a novel, its author, Chaim Potok, was a partner in that adaptation. I imagine he would have been pleased with the version on stage at Seattle Rep. I am reminded that this is the power of drama. Drama can convey messages with sound and expression; drama is a live art form that, when it is good, can lift a spirit, can capture a moment, can inspire an audience.

What a pleasant discovery I had in "The Chosen." I am glad that my plans and my stage in life allowed me to appreciate this beautiful piece of literature in all its complexities and intricacies.

My first and only other Seattle Rep experience was "Take Me Out" last autumn, and it was also spectacular. I could find myself spending a lot more time there if this is the quality I can expect.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Judge clarifies rulings in election lawsuit

Judge John Bridges has clarified his earlier rulings from the bench and affirmed that the trial from the state Republican Party can proceed.

It remains to be seen which standard the Republicans will have to use to prove that the election results are invalid. The Democrats say that each false vote must be matched with a voter. Republicans counter that they can use statistics or just that enough bad votes were cast to make the result unclear. More confusing? Each side has state Supreme Court precedence on to back it up.

Read the complete story from the Seattle P-I.

My take: I can't imagine that we would throw out a certified election because of statistics or just on the probability that the results were improper. Why don't we just sample each precinct, then, and just elect whoever polls better based on a sample? Each vote counts. If it was an illegal vote, prove it. It should be hard to prove; it should require evidence.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Former gov. joins international law firm

Former Gov. Gary Locke, only a month out of office, has landed a lucrative, high-profile job with the Seattle law firm Davis Wright Tremaine.

Locke, 55, joined the firm as a partner with its China and governmental-relations practice groups. He'll be based in Seattle but will do some traveling to Asia. The law firm has more than 420 attorneys and offices in Los Angeles; New York; Washington, D.C.; and Shanghai, China, among other cities.

Read the rest.

Student newspaper is showcase for First Amendment article

The article below is copied from The Wenatchee World's Web site, which limits access to subscribers. Otherwise I would just post a link. I am working on permission, and when I receive it, I will update. If I don't receive it, I'll take this post down. But I wanted to share it immediately.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.


Today’s topic - The First Amendment — Student journalists take issue with peers’ opinions on First Amendment rights

Government censorship of newspapers?

Not a bad idea.

Restricting a newspaper’s ability to publish freely without government approval?

Also not a bad idea — according to many of the teenagers in 544 high schools across the country surveyed for the Future of the First Amendment Project, a two-year, $1 million survey funded by the Knight Foundation.

Please say it ain’t so — at least to a group of outspoken teen journalists at The Apple Leaf, the national award-winning student newspaper at Wenatchee High School.

Telling them that only half their cohorts in the country think that newspapers should be printed without government approval is like Kryptonite to Superman — toxic and potentially fatal.

“It’s the First Amendment that allows you to see every side of an issue in the newspaper,” said Sam Rechtin, a 17-year-old senior and editor-in-chief of The Apple Leaf.

Over at Eastmont High School, student adviser Jean Gillespie of The Scratching Post, said that she was “unpleasantly surprised” by the results of the First Amendment survey. She said she is having a difficult time getting students to contribute to the paper and “stick their neck” out a little bit. But she said she still believes that the newspaper is a way to give students a chance to voice their opinions.

The Future of the First Amendment Project was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s High School Initiative. Its aim is to encourage students to use the news media, including student journalism, and to better understand and appreciate the First Amendment.

High school students’ attitudes about the First Amendment are important because each generation of citizens helps define what freedom means in our society, according to the study.

The results of the surveys, which were sent to more than 100,000 students, nearly 8,000 teachers and more than 500 administrators, were troubling to journalism educators and First Amendment supporters.

Almost 75 percent of teens surveyed for the project said they either didn’t know how they felt about the First Amendment or took it for granted.

That doesn’t surprise this group of passionate scholastic journalists, who added that their peers probably don’t know what rights are guaranteed to them under the First Amendment of the Constitution or how to interpret them.

“I think they (students) believe that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them,” said Sarah Jeglum, news editor for The Apple Leaf and a senior at the school.

That’s really too bad, said Apple Leaf adviser and WHS English teacher Logan Aimone.

“I think kids get their rights trampled on all the time,” he said.

As an example, he said dress codes have turned into “good taste” codes, which squash a student’s right to free expression.

In addition to having reservations about newspapers having the freedom to publish freely without government approval, the national study also revealed that many teens have poor knowledge of what is protected under the First Amendment.

Among the other findings: 75 percent of the students incorrectly think flag burning is illegal and almost half believe the government can restrict indecent material on the Internet (it cannot).

But First Amendment advocates and Aimone said the problem lies in what the students are not being taught.

“We’re increasing the education in math and the sciences,” said Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center. “Maybe we need to refocus on how we learn about the rather complicated process of applying the five basic freedoms to a modern society.”

The Apple Leaf has stirred its share of controversy in recent years.

Between a diagram that showed students how to use a condom, and articles on homosexuality and the growing popularity of oral sex, the basic premise of the First Amendment has emboldened this group of student journalists.

“The less you teach people their rights, the less they’ll challenge the system,” said Jeglum.

The Apple Leaf’s plunge into sometimes controversial topics isn’t done for shock value, said the students. Those stories are the exceptions.

Most of the paper’s stories are everyday features and news stories like light-hearted features of the reemergence of fashion trends like leg warmers.

“We get ideas that are important to the student body,” said Rechtin.

However, the paper has already drawn the ire of at least one adult school staffer who called it a “left-wing rag” — a claim that they all dispute.

There is an administrative review policy for The Apple Leaf in the Wenatchee School District, but Aimone said that the paper does not have to get WHS Principal Mike Franza to approve every issue.

“I think that shows that the administration believes that we are teaching responsible journalism and that students should be trusted,” said Aimone. “We’ve worked out a good working relationship over the past five years.”

Two recent examples stand out in the minds of staffers as to why First Amendment freedoms should be protected and valued.

One was an opinion piece from student Andrew Crollard, opinion editor for The Apple Leaf who espoused his atheist viewpoints in an opinion piece and questioned the amount of Christian practices at WHS.

It angered several students at the school.

Another story was about Panther basketball coach Brett McGinnis, who ordered a player to overthrow a ball past teammates and into the stands of rowdy fans.

Alex Pepperl, sports editor for The Apple Leaf, said there was a lot of discussion and worry among student newspaper and school staff about whether the story should run.

In the end, it was printed.

“It was important for the news to come out,” said Rechtin. “It wasn’t our job to make the news; it was our job to report it.”

Besides, student photographer Sam McHaney said that he didn’t want to be a part of a publication that watered down facts.

“Sometimes, you just end up giving data instead of stories,” he said.

Despite the national survey that shows shrinking support and limited knowledge among their peers for First Amendment freedoms, Rechtin said he wanted The Apple Leaf to become a “reader board” for WHS.

“We want the paper to be a place where students feel free to express their opinions,” he said.

Alicia Gooden can be reached at 665-1181 or by e-mail at


Key findings of the Future of the First Amendment Project:

Nearly three-fourths of students say either they don’t know how they feel about the First Amendment or take it for granted.

Students are less likely than adults to think that people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions or newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

Students lack knowledge and understanding about key aspects of the First Amendment. Seventy-five percent incorrectly think that flag burning is illegal. Nearly half erroneously believe the government can restrict indecent material on the Internet.

Students who do not participate in any media-related activities are less likely to think that people should be allowed to burn or deface the American flag. Students who have taken more media and/or First Amendment classes are more likely to agree that people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions.

Students participating in student-run newspapers are more likely to believe that students should be allowed to report controversial issues without approval of school authorities than students who do not participate in student newspapers.



What the First Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Wal-Mart is an anti-union bully

As if there were not already enough reasons to despise Wal-Mart for its deplorable treatment of its workers, its shameless disregard for communities that it plunders and its ownership's anti-public education campaign, here's another:

Workers in Canada had successfully voted to form a union when Wal-Mart closed the store. Read the full story.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

More than just a friendly auction

I had a lot of informal discussions with students Wednesday about the upcoming Valentine's Day Auction where about 80 students will be sold to the highest bidder for what I am sure is a good cause. The event is sponsored by the Panteras Unidas club, a club designed to promote understanding among different cultures. A number of elements Wednesday kept this as a hot topic among students in various classes. The newspaper staff has a commentary in the works as well as news coverage for a paper Wednesday.

Some of my background regarding this situation:
My own high school sponsored an annual "Slave Sale" where members of the newspaper and yearbook staffs were sold to bidders. The "slaves" would do simple tasks for their "owners" -- open doors, carry books, get lunch in the cafeteria, sing "I'm a Little Teapot" -- innocent stuff, really. This sale was changed to a "Buddy Sale" when I was a senior because attitudes changed (political correctness swept the country); one student had actually dressed in black face and chains one year. I was a participant twice. I'm pretty sure the school doesn't sponsor this event anymore.

That said, I think a simple auction of personal services is no big deal -- we see it all the time in society where eligible bachelors or members of the city council or whatever are auctioned off for a good cause.

It's when the "good, clean fun" turns into something more subtly sinister that I think a problem arises. The morning announcements proclaimed this event as an opportunity to "date someone out of your league," which equates the auction with some sort of warped prostitution (a term several students used Wednesday to describe this event). Later, I saw one of this school's only black students wearing a paper sign around his neck that read: "Can you afford me?" What messages does this send not only about the nature of relationships -- that some people must buy their affection -- but about the differences in races and how we treat people of color? If we had selected a black student in class to be an example of slaves or a Latino student to be an example of migrant workers or undocumented immigrants, or an effeminate student as an example of being gay -- what is the message? The message comes across as "It's OK to perpetuate stereotypes." I don't think that is the message that WHS or Panteras Unidas intends to promote, especially since the club is designed to break down the walls of stereotype and culture.

I think we have the responsibility as educators to at least help students see these concerns. Surely I can't be the only one who has concerns with how this event is being promoted to the student body. It seems to me that one way to bring this event back to the good, clean fun that was intended is to monitor more closely the announcements over the PA system in the remaining mornings of promotion. Then, pass the word to participants to tone down the sexual references and downplay the ownership/dominance aspect. Maybe it can still be a fun event after all -- I hope so.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Cool Blog Alert: Cyphering

Check this one out. Good stuff from a good gal. She's my friend and now she's self-published. Way to go!


Sunday, February 06, 2005

The First Amendment and our future

Jan. 31 brought a wake-up call for those of us whose business it is to educate and promote the First Amendment. Some of the key findings, according to the sponsor's Web site:

  • High school students tend to express little appreciation for the First Amendment. Nearly three-fourths say either they don't know how they feel about it or take it for granted.
  • Students are less likely than adults to think that people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions or newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.
  • Students lack knowledge and understanding about key aspects of the First Amendment. Seventy-five percent incorrectly think that flag burning is illegal. Nearly half erroneously believe the government can restrict indecent material on the Internet.
  • Not surprisingly, those students who worked for school media had a higher rate of knowledge about and support for the First Amendment.

Ultimately, the project surveyed more than 100,000 high school students, nearly 8,000 teachers and more than 500 administrators and principals at 544 high schools across the United States.

Go to the Web site.

We've got to do something. I have a laundry list of ideas, and I plan a longer post on this topic soon. But let's start a dialog among educators, students, parents and members of the community as to how we can do more to encourage students to know and value the First Amendment.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

It's time to end another type of discrimination

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer had an interesting column advocating for passage of HB 1515, which would add sexual orientation to the list of banned types of discrimination. It's the 30th year in a row that such a bill has been introduced in Olympia. The column's author, Thomas Shapley, eloquently makes the case that if we ban discrimination based on religious affiliation -- clearly a free choice -- then we should oppose discrimination based on sexual orientation, even if it is not yet proven whether orientation is inherent or a choice.

Read the rest of Shapley's column.

Just a few days earlier, Tracy Warner, the generally moderate columnist at The Wenatchee World, called for passage of the bill, too. Since The World Online requires subscription, here's an excerpt:

"You're fired."

"But, why?"

"Because you're a ( )."

In Washington state, and the nation for that matter, there are certain words that legally cannot be used to fill that blank. Baptist, Methodist, Jew, Catholic, Rastafarian, Sikh, Muslim, etc. -- state law specifically forbids discrimination on account of "creed." Or write in black, Asian, Latino, Caucasian -- discrimination on account of race is forbidden, too. Or write in woman, or man, or single, or divorced, or married with children, or blind, or deaf, or mentally disabled, or physically handicapped -- all those cases are specifically protected under Washington state's law against discrimination.

By all these factors you cannot discriminate in "employment, in credit and insurance transactions, in places of public resort, accommodation or amusement, and in real property transactions." The people of the state of Washington through their elected representatives have deemed these rules wise, in the cause of advancing a just and civil society.

You can, however, fill that blank with "homosexual." Firing an employee for that reason and only that reason is perfectly legal in this state and most others. No law prohibits discrimination on account of sexual orientation, even if that orientation is not made evident by any behavior or "lifestyle." All that is required is the prejudice of the person doing the firing.


So this is not about political correctness or anything else trendy. It is not about currying favor with a political constituency. The bill is about the fundamental function of government in a free society -- to protect the rights of citizens, particularly those in the minority.

It merely gives to a definable minority what the rest of us have: the right to be judged by what we do, not what we are.

It's not every day that columnists for The P-I and The World are in sync. Let's hope the Legislature can see that 30th time is a charm.

Congressman "Doc" will chair House Ethics Committee

U.S. Rep Richard "Doc" Hastings, whose 4th Congressional District of Washington includes my town, has been named to chair the Ethics Committee in the House of Representatives. I could type out a big explanation, but the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Joel Connelly does a good job in his Feb. 7 column. Read it here.

We'll see if Doc can heal the mess on that committee, mainly involving Rep. Tom DeLay, the majority leader.

Doc's other committee is Rules, and it's pretty unusual to serve on Ethics and Rules, I guess. Word is, Doc really wants to chair the Rules Committee. That is a powerful post, one that basically determines what legislation gets to the floor, how it reaches the floor and the debate rules. Incidentally, Doc was the presiding officer during the November 2003 vote on the Medicare prescription plan -- a vote that was extended by three hours to allow Republicans to force a one-vote victory. Are these the "Rules" and "Ethics" we can expect from "Doc"?

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Judge: Move forward but no re-vote

From The Seattle Times Web site, Feb. 5:

WENATCHEE — The Republican court challenge to the election of Gov. Christine Gregoire will move toward trial after Judge John Bridges yesterday rejected Democratic motions to dismiss the case or move it to the Legislature or the state Supreme Court.

It goes forward, though, minus most of the defendants in the case. Bridges dismissed all the state's counties and their auditors from the lawsuit.

Bridges said in Chelan County Superior Court that allegations in the lawsuit filed by Republican candidate Dino Rossi and Republican voters, if proved at trial, would be sufficient to overturn the election. And he denied a Democratic motion to limit any challenge to issues of fraud and illegal votes, saying misconduct or neglect by election officials would also be sufficient grounds for setting aside the election.

"This case should go forward, at least at this point," Bridges said.

Full story

I was in the courtroom Friday afternoon when the lawyers made their arguments about a re-vote -- just wanted my chance to experience a bit of history. When Judge Bridges ruled immediately, there was a >gulp<>

But proving that the questionable votes would have changed the outcome will be exceptionally difficult. The Republicans would have had to do that anyway even if they would get a revote. But a lot of the wind has gone from their sails, it seems.

More to come from here in Chelan County, but it will be several days before the parties even get together and determine the next step. And there is plenty to appeal to the state Supreme Court, so we're weeks away from closure in this.

The only sure way to move on is for Rossi to say he's done, it's gone far enough. I think that's a long shot, and it sure would be disappointing to the armies of Republican foot soldiers who are carrying on as if there was some sort of coup that installed Gov. Gregoire.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Digest: State of the Union

Digest is just a bunch of bit items.

My dream job: Sergeant at Arms for the U.S. House of Representatives. You know I have been practicing my "Mr. Speaker..." line for years.
All over but the shoutin': I felt very much like my mother's son tonight. I actually had a sarcastic comment (and a few nasty names for GWB) for each of the first few sections of the speech tonight. At one point, I shouted. Then reality set in -- I was sitting alone in my living room eating dinner and actually shouting at the president on TV. Wow. I need to stop that.
GWB -- Still against gays: In case anyone had forgotten, the president reiterated his call for a Constitutional amendment to prohibit gays from acquiring the same legal rights as all other Americans and to protect Americans from so-called "activist judges" (he calls it "protecting marriage"). Surprise.
Social Insecurity: Here's my answer to the people who want to have private accounts for Social Security (privatizing=screwing the future generations): Stop being selfish. It's not your money! It's your grandma's money. Your grandkids will pay for you when you're old. That's how it works. I have way too many thoughts on this for the digest, so I will formulate a full post soon.
Hallmark Hall of Fame moment: The Iraqi woman hugging the dead sergeant's mom in the gallery next to Laura Bush. Guess which picture will be on a couple hundred front pages tomorrow? Check out the Newseum's daily collection of pages to verify.
Bloggers-turned-Talking Heads: CNN had two bloggers, Andrew Sullivan and "Wonkette," as "analysts" after the speech. They argued about perspective like pros. Best comment was about the hugging women (see above) and the fact that the soldier's mom, who was holding her son's dog tags, snagged the dog tags on Iraqi woman's cuff/button as everyone in the room watched misty-eyed. Sullivan said the moment was symbolic for how these two women's lives were intertwined. Wonkette quickly quipped it was a metaphor for the U.S. involvement in Iraq -- snagged and unable to easily separate. I like this Wonkette.
Democrats respond: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California clearly is a Botox babe. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is impressive. Old opinion: Bumpkin weenie from state that's teenie. New opinion: Hardball Harry -- looks folksy, crushes enemies. Who else does that describe? That's right, GWB.
Weird awkward congratulatory moment: GWB spies Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, grabs his hand to shake, places his left hand on the senator's cheeck and pulls him in for a weird hug that was a bit too uncomfortable for the House chamber. I guess since the Democratic senator is practically a Republican it was OK.

Other thoughts about the State of the Union? Post 'em!

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Turning the 'Paige'

As one of my favorite writers, Hank Stuever of The Washington Post, reports, TLC has canned Paige Davis from its signature show, "Trading Spaces." Admittedly, I have not watched the show in a while -- made me feel guilty for my home's plain walls in need of a new coat of paint -- but who doesn't have a soft spot for good ol' Paige?

Read more here. Free registration required.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

What to expect in court Feb. 4

Tuesday afternoon at the school's Political Awareness Club meeting, Russell Speidel, a Wenatchee attorney serving as co-counsel for the Washington State Democrats, explained the court proceedings and the arguments that both the petitioners (the state Republicans and Dino Rossi campaign) and the intervenor-respondent (the state Democrats) will make. I'll outline the four main points (keep in mind this is much-simplified from Mr. Speidel's information). Then, my own comments follow in italic type. My conclusion and prediction will follow last.

I want to emphasize that while Mr. Speidel represents the Democrats in this case, he did not speak at the club meeting trying to advocate a position. He spoke to educate the students who will attend a portion of the proceedings Friday. He was fair and informative.

Feb. 4 will be a historic day. This is already the closest governor's race in state and national history. It would be the first time a governor's election would be set aside. Regardless of the outcome in Chelan County, the loser will appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The four main issues:
Subject Matter Jurisdiction: The issue is whether the courts have jurisdiction to hear contests in the election for governor or whether the Legislature has exclusive jurisdiction. The state constitution, Article III, section 1, defines the state offices, including governor. Section 4 states, "Contested elections for such officers shall be decided by the legislature in such a manner as shall be determined by law." Apparently about a dozen other states have similar language. Democrats say this means that only the Legislature has jurisdiction over statewide office contests and that "by law" means that the Legislature can sit as a court and hold a trial with legal proceedings (depositions, witnesses, etc.).

My take: The state constitution seems clear to me -- the Legislature gets to decide contests for statewide office. No court can rule here. The counterargument is that the judicial power of "equity" -- to right a wrong -- is specifically delegated to a Superior Court (each county). So which part of the constitution is more powerful?

The next three issues all assume that a court finds it does have jurisdiction.
Venue: The issue is whether Chelan County Superior Court is the appropriate court to hear this case. Mr. Speidel explained that an affadavit was filed in Chelan County where four voters claimed they had been disenfranchised. The deadline for filing complaints and voter corrections (signature matches, etc.) was mid-November. All four in Chelan County were dated in December.

My take: There may be a case to make in another county but not here in Chelan County.

Relief: The issue is whether the Republicans and Rossi are entitled to a revote. The Republicans need to show that the proper remedy to the possible errors (they need to list those, too) is, in fact, a revote.

My take: See below.

Causes: The issue is what constitutes an "illegal vote." The constitution defines an illegal vote as one cast by a felon, a person declared mentally incompetent, or multiple votes cast by a single person. It also notes that an illegal vote is not a vote cast by improperly registered voters who were not properly challenged under the law. Republicans will call some votes illegal (cast by felons or on behalf of deceased -- actually a person voted twice) and that errors in registration could have been avoided.

My take: The Seattle Times found 129 felons who voted just in King and Pierce counties. Some of those felons never knew they weren't supposed to be able to vote. The state is supposed to notify a county auditor when a felon has voting rights removed or restored. It's not perfect, aiuditors say, because of delays in processing and because people move around. Therefore, that's an error in registration, not an illegal vote -- an error in registration that should have been challenged during canvassing, not after certification. Basically, it is a horrible thing to know that some ballots were cast by people who should not have cast them, but it's too late to go back. There is not evidence of widespread fraud, and we don't know for certain that the erroneous ballots would have changed the outcome.

Final thoughts: The court does not have the authority to do what is being requested. The Legislature does (and we know the Demos control both houses, so there will be no revote if they have anything to say about it). Even if the court decides it does have the jurisdiction, and let;s say Judge Bridges buys all the Republican arguments, I think the ultimate question regarding power of "equity" is this: Is a revote the appropriate solution? Just because we do the election again, it won't make things perfect. We don't guarantee perfection. This was not a "messy" election -- it was a fair election that was just very, very close, so we see how much every small factor matters. Judge Bridges is known for making decisions without a lot of delay. His entire day is available, but I would not be surprised to see a decision before the end of business. If the hearing continues late into the afternoon, I'll try to get down there. Expect an update from me by Saturday.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.