Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Whatcom County "Turn Out" 2005 - 2010 Part I

This post is probably designed for serious politicos...The rest of you may want to spare yourself the brain drain of my numbers and less than snazy Open Office charts. -RMF

[Note: The data and graphs below are the work of one [unpaid] blogger with the help of  SQL Server Express, SQL Management Studio, Open Office, and Powershell. My work comes with no promises or guarantees. Please verify the data for your purposes. For my purposes, "registered voters" includes only those voters whose ballot had a disposition of some type (e.g. not a blank 'VotingMethodDesc' field) and "turn out" is defined only by a successful  disposition (e.g. 'Provisional voter' or 'Voted By Mail Ballot'). See the Methodology worksheet of my data for more information. ]

"Registered Voters" and election "Turn Out" numbers in Whatcom County appear to have averaged growth more than twice as fast per year from 2005 - 2010 as the population increase (20.6%)  for the last decade (2000 - 2010). Some precincts have seen over 500 new registered voters since the 2005 General Election. Whether this is more attributable to

(A)"Vote By Mail" efficiencies or
(B) the hyper-charged political climate of Bellingham and Whatcom County or
(C) urban and rural growth and annexations  or
(D) all of the above,

I do not know.  However, a few hours spent in SQL Server Management Studio [see spreadsheet here] demonstrates the current impressive responsiveness of the Whatcom County electorate to their civic obligation to vote:

Many precints in Whatcom County "turned out" over 70% in the 2010 General Election.

These are the valid registration numbers that I came up with at the point of each General Election from 2005 - 2010. There are now reputedly  117,000 registrants for the upcoming 2011 election. (The auditor's office may have recently pruned this from over 118,000...) Below, note the turnout spike from the 2008 General Election (of Barack Obama):

Where have all the new registrants come from and are they voting?  Yes, many of them are voting and the increases in registrants appear to be county wide. Some precincts have seen increases  of 500 of more registered voters from 2005 - 2010.  Many of these precincts are recent urban annexations or rural county areas. (See 1,2,3)

Looking below at the "Top 20 Precincts Increase in Turnout between 2005 - 2010"  we see:

Precincts from Whatcom County: 109,102,149,128,103,141,130,150
Precincts from Bellingham: 209,201,208,204
Precncts from Ferndale: 604,602,605,501,504,502

Venturing into even more granular analysis of voting trends, if we compare five year increases in registration and turnout of  the 48 Bellingham Precincts with the 73 ROC ("Rest of County") precincts, we see strong registration and turn out increases in Bellingham and "ROC", with exceptionally strong increases in "turn out" in "ROC" precincts:

[Registration Increases for 2005-2010 (REGINC5Y) and Turnout increases for 2005-2010 (TOINC5Y)]

totals 12,556 11,290
per prec ave 261.58 235.2

totals 16,788 18,564
per prec ave 229.97 254.3

There are now reputedly  117,000 registrants for the upcoming 2011 election next November 8th. The local election includes a tight mayor's race, a 'conservatives only' County Executive race, a Sheriff's race, county and city council races, an initiative to stop Red Light Cameras, and lots of discussion about Gateway Pacific Terminal. Be interesting to see what the turnout numbers will be!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Way Forward....

Daniel Alpert, Robert Hackett, Noriel Roubini : "The Way Forward Moving From the Post-Bubble, Post-Bust Economy to Renewed Growth and Competitiveness":

Reuters video here:

"We use infrastructure as convenient way to create demand...The only was to create demand in a capitalistic society is to create employment...Our monetary policy has not successful because excess supply is so plentiful...What it does it relies on is the government as the employer of last resort. ...We are effectively at that point."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Candidate Forums...

I've now attended three forums, but before I discuss them and some conclusions, here are links to interviews with the candidates and  local forum video from  BTV10:


The Human Services, Transition Whatcom, and Whatcom Progressive Solidarity Forums were vastly different structured forums: different formats, time limits, content. But all three offered excellent information on the issues and the candidates.  With the exception of the Human Services forum, these debates were not well attended. And that is the single biggest observation I have taken from my participation.  There will some number of forums yet to come, with the WWU forum and another League of Women Voters forum happening this Thursday evening, October 2oth.

I won't make any comments on the forum material or the candidates at this point, only to say that the print and especially media above is well worth watching.  Seeing the candidates answer questions in person is really, really important.  It gives the viewer not only a feel for the candidates but a feel for the issues and problems of local government.  Important facts are disbursed that are not easily available elsewhere.  It bothers me that local government is not given more attention by many of the professionals, students, and activists that inhabit this county and city. I know it is hard to make the debates. We all have families and jobs.  But you are missing out if you do not make a point to go.  We will not make any changes in our country, local or otherwise, if we don't start occupying our government. Now is a really good chance to hear the uncensored grist of those who work for you at a local level.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bank Transfer Day

In the spirit of the fifth of November, a woman named Kristen Christian has organized a facebook page called "Bank Transfer Day":
"Together we can ensure that these banking institutions will ALWAYS remember the 5th of November!! If the 99% removes our funds from the major banking institutions to non-profit credit unions on or by this date, we will send a clear message to the 1% that conscious consumers won't support companies with unethical business practices.
• Research your local credit union options
• Open an account with the one that best suits your needs
• Cancel all automatic withdrawals & deposits
• Transfer your funds to the new account
• Follow your bank's procedures to close your account on or before 11/05"
It is an engaging idea at first  glance: pump money into your local credit union and away from multi-national banks. After all, who wouldn't consider doing this after reading the information that resulted from Bloomberg's long sought FOIA on the activities of the Federal Reserve's discount window during 2008 and 2009:

Or maybe you are just tired of getting stuck with debit card fees and high overdrawn fees?  Or maybe you just finished Phil Angelides and crew excellent report on The Financial Crisis: Inquiry Report and haven't been able to stop vomiting? Or maybe you are just really upset that high rolling corporate men like the Koch brothers can "flout the law" and unduly influence grass roots political movements?

Or maybe you are one of tens of millions in the ranks of the permanently unemployed, your family has been through bankruptcy and you have lost your home due to foreclosure. Oh yeah brothers and sisters, you just might be one of those...In any event, "Bank Transfer Day" might be for you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Robert Reich and Paul Krugman

Robert Reich destroys the fallacious economic arguments of the right wing in less than three minutes:

Paul Krugman outlines the "Panic of the Plutocrats"

"And this reaction tells you something important — namely, that the extremists threatening American values are what F.D.R. called “economic royalists,” not the people camping in Zuccotti Park."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Upcoming political forums!!

Bellingham Herald reporter Jared Paben has posted at length on upcoming political forums in the Whatcom County.  I've pulled off four and attached links. These four are:

  • Bellingham located
  • Evening Time slots
  • Hosted by local political organizations and (wait for it...)
  • Free to the general public!

    Host Location Date/Time Who
    Opportunity Council and others Bellingham Muni Court 2014 C ST. 10/12 5:30 – 8:30 PM All candidates invited...
    Transition Whatcom Whatcom County Court House 311 Grand Ave. 10/14 7:30 – 9:30 PM County Exec and Bellingham Mayor
    League of Women Voters Bellingham Muni Court 2014 C ST. 10/20 6 – 8 PM County Exec and Council
    WWU Student Government WWU Performing Arts Center 10/20 5-7  PM Bellingham Mayoral

    Obviously, you will have choose between the last two as they are in similar time slots, although a pair of strong legs could help you get between the the first half of one and second half of the other!  I strongly recommend "The Candidate Forum on Human Services"  on October 12th which is being broadcast live on BTV10. I have attended  and blogged about this forum for each of the last two years (2009, 2010) and I find the content and presentation revealing.  "The Candidate Forum on Human Services"  asks questions of the candidates about poverty, hunger, and homelessness which are very serious problems in Whatcom County.  I find candidate responses to these questions reveal much about the candidates as people and administrators.  I'm going to try to cover all these events.  I hope you make it there as well. Come early to get a seat!

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    A peaceful and productive first rally...

    Several hundred (or more) protesters ("the 99%") marched peacefully through the streets of downtown Bellingham tonight to protest the inequality of wealth in our country. These protests are taking place literally in hundreds of cities across the United States and tonight's march in Bellingham showed just how deep the understanding and intuition of the malfeasance that corporate capitalism has foisted upon our country's socio-economic fabric.   Unlike the "Tea Party", there is no apparent big money behind these "occupations" or "rallies".  People across the nation seem to understand almost as one body that corporate capitalism and greed has sucked the wealth and prosperity out of our schools, governments, and families. The long standing imperialist wars our country has fought overseas,  the lack of appropriate taxation of the wealthy, and the unregulated, undisciplined excess of the leaders of our financialized economy has created grass roots discontent across a wide fabric. These were hardly just the young or students in this rally.  These protests will not stop or fade as long as joblessness, poverty, and inequality of wealth continue to maintain prominent profiles across small town America.

    Here in Bellingham tonight there was no use of 'kettling', 'pepper spray', or any other evidence of 'police brutality'.  Our police department appeared to concentrate on creating a safe space for the protesters downtown to march despite the interruption of traffic.    Other municipalities could use some notes from the BPD on how to protect a democratic populace and allow for freedom of assembly simultaneously. These protesters are going to come back every Friday. I suggest we all join them. Too much financial collapse has gone on for too long, too many have lost their jobs, too many have lost their homes. At some point, if we wish our country to survive, we will have to work together to build an economic system not based upon "market forces" but upon deep and well-regarded principles of humanitarianism.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Why the next five days are a critical part of the election period...

    The next five days are a critical part of the election period.  Until October 10, you can register online and submit a change of address form in Washington State. After that you can walk into the Whatcom County Courthouse and do so in person until October 31st.  You must submit a change of address if you expect to receive by mail your printed ballot materials in  a timely manner.  I recommend that everyone check to make sure their registration is up to date, especially so if you are a returning student (with a new address). My site RMFMedia will be doing its best to help!!  Please register to vote!!

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    The Mayoral and County Executive Funding Races Through 09.30. 2011 : Part I

    Last night I downloaded the Bellingham Mayoral and Whatcom County Executive funding data from the PDC (through September 30,2011?). I sorted the "cash contributions" of funding of each candidate by amount, count, and "populist ratio" (a synthetic statistic). You will have to click on the image below to enlarge. The spreadsheet data for this blog post can be found here.