Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Too Close

Today's news out of Boston hit my heart. A 24 year old young woman's body was found dead, stabbed, in Hyde Park's Stony Brook Reservation. She was kidnapped from her South Boston apartment, and forced to make ATM withdrawals. Later today, there were surveillance camera shots of her at ATMs. I cannot imagine the threats made to her, to force her to do this. I cannot imagine her realization that they were not going to let her go.

Most of all, I cannot imagine the pain of her parents. I have a 24 year old daughter who lives in Boston. I worry when I don't hear from her. I try to remember when I was her age, younger actually, living in Boston. I hardly ever called home. I lived in an apartment building next to the Green Line tracks where one of the Boston Strangler's victims was found. Stuff happens. Most of the time, it doesn't. You don't dwell on the bad stuff. You keep your city smarts in mind. And you live your life.

When bad stuff does happen, it is incomprehensible. And painful. I hurt tonight for the family and friends of Amy Lord. I send a big hug to my daughter over our emotional airways. Stay safe, sweetie.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

All Politics Is Local

From Wikipedia: 
Politics (from Greek: politikos, meaning "of, for, or relating to citizens") is the science of influencing other people on a civic or individual level.
We have a primary ballot dropping this weekend. On it are two things: a vote for County Clerk and a vote for a levy to fund a new Emergency Services District. The County Clerk vote is to fill a one year unexpired term, between two Republicans. All I really need to find out about that one is which is the Tea Party candidate and which is the normal garden variety Republican. Clear choice. Maybe.

The EMS District would combine the ambulance services of our two county hospital districts, saving money on administration and funding the service so that the two hospitals don't continue bleeding red ink. It will replace a current levy on our side of the county with a lower one, so it should be a no brainer for Hospital District 2. For folks in Hospital District 1, it will be a new levy. But their hospital cannot continue to absorb the costs of their ambulance. They have already reduced services to stay afloat. But it is also in a very red part of the county, where taxes are a bad word. Even if your life depends on getting you to the hospital or stabilizing you after an injury, heart attack or stroke. This levy means $30 a YEAR on property valued at $100,000. For us, it means about $80 a year. Money well spent, I'd say. It's 40% less than we are paying for our library levy, and the library can't try to save my life in an emergency!

The levy is new, so it faces hurdles. Such as, 60 percent of the voters in Nov 2012 election must turn in their ballots. Some 10,000 plus people voted in that presidential election out of the 12,000 plus voters registered. Which means we need  6,000 plus people to vote. Of those, we need 40% to vote YES!, some 2,500 people.

There is a group of people from both sides of the county who have formed YES! EMS! There's a Facebook page.There are signs. There are buttons. There are flyers. I sat with a table at our town's July 4th festivities, with a friend from Goldendale for part of the time, educating people on the issue and urging them to vote and to tell their friends, families and neighbors to vote. Some people had no idea what it was. Some knew and just wanted a sign, or to check when the ballots were coming. I even got two people to register to vote. The effort has been totally nonpartisan. Everyone is working together. But we're running out of time to educate and engage people face to face.

I was thinking it would be a great idea to bring information and buttons to the weekly farmer's market here in town. They had a fire district education booth. And a hospital sponsored kid's area. I had materials left from the 4th. So since we have a couple of weeks in a last push, I planned to spend my Tuesday afternoons hanging out at the market. Good thing Lloyd suggested that contact the organizer to be sure it was okay. Shouldn't be a problem. It's a local community nonpartisan issue. Am I right?

Well, no. Dang, I'd better quit thinking!!! Turns out they don't want ANY political activity at the market. While I understand people's aversion to 'politics', politics is how we elect our leaders, make our rules, and make decisions about public policy. Politics isn't required to be the ugly thing that goes on in the Other Washington. In its purest form, to me, it's about taking care of our community and its people. To completely eliminate 'politics' from our daily lives is to invite Idiocracy.

People running for office generally hit the summer fairs and festivals to be where the people are, to meet people, shake hands, talk about what concerns them. Putting a personal connection into our one step removed lives. Would that be verboten? I doubt if our representative or one of our congresswomen or our governor showed up, they'd be turned away for being politicians.

I get that sometimes the outside funded efforts (like the anti coal effort that is busy here in the Gorge) can sometimes turn people off. I personally don't see educating people on issues is a bad, as long as people get comprehensive information, not just the emotional pitches. We SHOULD be thinking about these things. But this EMS effort is grass roots LOCAL politics. Your friends and neighbors who want to spread the word about something important to the community. And advising people to vote no matter what their view. How is this a bad thing????

Fenway Faithful West Coast

Last Thursday we were out of the house at 7 am, heading north to Seattle's Safeco Field to watch the scrappy Mariners play the Red Sox. I'd been there a month earlier with my long time buddy Karen (I refuse to call her an Old Friend) after we finished our week long Inside Passage cruise. We just had to stay an extra night to see the Mariners and Yankees. Those Mariners hung in that time, made it a game to the end, but lost by a run. It was easy to root for the Mariners that day. We even got seats in the Kings Court, yellow Tshirts and K cards to be part of the 'fans who go wild when Hernandez strikes someone out'. Now here I was, on my way to a showdown between my life long team of my heart, and the adopted state rivals.

We decided to avoid the parking insanity near Safeco, particularly since there were two Gold Cup soccer games immediately following the baseball game. With the parking lot full at the Tukwila light rail station (near SeaTac airport), we roamed the neighborhoods nearby until we found a spot. Got our tickets just in time to run up the escalator and catch the 11:03 train. After walking the few blocks to the park, and strolling all the way around the perimeter, we arrived at Home Plate about 15 minutes before our scheduled meet up with Sal, our teacher buddy from Lagos days, who had our tickets.

And what great seats they were (thank you very much, JS)! It was a beautiful day for a ballgame, sunny, blue skies with a few puff balls, great skyline behind the outfield walls. A little chilly, as we were on the shady side. Dilemma: wear the hoodie or use it as a lap blanket for my goosebumped, shorts clad legs? Legs won. I wore a more discreet shirt than my bright red official Red Sox shirt, which also is short sleeved. I did see a ton of red shirts in the crowd, almost as many Bosox shirts as Mariners shirts! Today called for the 100 years Fenway shirt, navy blue with LONG sleeves. And the big red B on the back...

We joked about seeing 3 games: the hitters innings, the middle relief pitchers' duel, and extra innings. The outcome? Red Sox on top by 1 in the 10th. A long game by Safeco standards, it was after 5 pm when the crowd began to leave. We loaded up with coffee in Tukwila before heading south on I-5 for the long long long drive home. Rolled in at 10 pm.

Note to self: Trips to Seattle require at least ONE overnight. And always meet up with Sal for a game when the Red Sox are in town!