Posted by News Intern Aaron Pickus
The conflict surrounding Nickelsville, a self-proclaimed "independent community" that's currently located in a parking lot across the street from the University Christian Church at 15th Ave NE and NE 50th St, is defined by the encampment's amorphous group of supporters and a campaign by the city of Seattle to shut it down.
The Department of Planning and Development is accusing the church of violating local land-use law, and charging that SHARE/WHEEL, the group that runs a separate encampment called Tent City (currently located at Haller Lake Methodist Church in North Seattle), is also behind Nickelsville--in violation of an agreement between the city and SHARE. Under that agreement, SHARE can operate only one tent city within the city's limits.
On October 16, the city's Department of Planning and Development sent UCC and SHARE a letter saying that SHARE was in violation of the March 2002 Consent Decree between SHARE and the city. The city has also charged that the church is violating land-use law by "maintaining an illegal encampment within a parking lot" and "eliminating the required off-street parking" for UCC.
UCC pastor Janetta Cravens Boyd says her church is primarily concerned with "creatively caring for the homeless" and "trying to create some understanding and advocacy for the homeless." UCC has not yet decided how to respond to the city's letter.
SHARE/WHEEL, meanwhile, strongly maintains that it is not responsible for Nickelsville. However, the group of people organizing Nickelsville include past and current members of SHARE. The most prominent past SHARE member is Scott Morrow, whom Nickelsville resident Aaron Coyler describes as "an unpaid staff-person for Nickelsville." Morrow resigned from his seat on the SHARE/WHEEL board on August 1. In addition to his work with Nickelsville, Morrow is currently also a consultant for SHARE and, though not on the payroll, receives benefits.
Sean A. Russel, an attorney for SHARE, says that SHARE has "lived by the letter of the consent decree." Coyler says Morrow is at the Nickelsville site nearly every day.
Shortly after arriving at the site last Friday night, I watched Morrow moderate a dispute between a camp security officer and another resident accused of skipping out on his security shift. Morrow refused to comment on his role at Nickelsville.
Tim Harris, executive director of Real Change, says Morrow's name "in a lot of peoples minds is synonymous with SHARE. In the absence of Scott [Morrow], SHARE is stretched very thin as an organization." When asked what the relationship was between SHARE and Nickelsville, Harris responded, "there is obviously a lot of overlap between the two organizations" but "its really important for them to retain [a] legal distinction."
Real Change provided the tents for Nickelsville, and Harris says the community "relies on us for the political mobilization" and looks to Real Change for publicizing the encampment.
If SHARE/WHEEL isn't organizing Nickelsville, than who is? Officially, Bellevue's Veterans For Peace, Chapter 92. When I asked Russel why the city is accusing SHARE of supporting Nickelsville financially--by, for example, paying for four portable toilets--he reiterated, "There has been no financial support" from SHARE.
Harris didn't think it was likely that SHARE had supported Nickelsville financially, saying that he'd be "really surprised if [SHARE] were sloppy enough to do that. Itd be dumb and sloppy." Officials at DPD, which made the accusations, didn't respond to calls for comment.
It's hard to say exactly how many people are living in Nickelsville, because the residents are transient, but estimates range between 80 and 100. Some residents only stay for a short period; many are kicked out for violating the Nickelsville Rules of Conduct.
I had the opportunity to visit Nickelsville last week. The parking lot where it is located gently slopes to the west creating a constant feeling of slight imbalance. Residents socialized in a small sitting area near the entrance, chatting and smoking. The camp itself is organized as a grid of pink pup tents with a centrally located open-air kitchen. Some tents are elevated on pallets, others are not. During Nickelsville's nightly meeting, a resident who calls himself "The Penny King" offered to give residents pallets for a penny each. There were many takers. The four somehow-paid-for portable toilets hide in the southeast corner of the site. A sign is posted on one of the doors advertising a 12-step Bible study at UCC.
The fate of this new location is uncertain. A meeting last Wednesday at City Hall between representatives of SHARE, UCC, the City's Attorney's Office, DPD, and the Department of Planning and Health ended without any resolution. Russel says that although both sides agreed to "continue communicating to resolve the issue ... no meeting was scheduled for the future." According to the March 2002 Consent Decree, when conflicts like the current one arise, SHARE and the City must go through mediation. When asked what the next step in the conflict would be, Russel said, "it's the city's call."
Two weeks ago, on a muggy Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida, I stood on a mansion-lined golf course watching my younger brother Mike put a ball on a tee and take a practice stroke, and thought distractedly to myself: We're going to lose this state. This was right after the Obama line crossed over the McCain line on this Pollster poll-aggregate, so things were tending in Obama's direction, generally speaking, but on the ground in Florida there was no hope afoot. The place is saturated in McCain lust. Of course, Jacksonville, a "city" of fast-food places and Hooters billboards and tire centers, never goes Democratic. Every road is a highway, there are almost no sidewalks, and the bits of sidewalks they do have are covered in scampering little lizards. At one point in the visit I went for a jog (which is difficult when the heat is punishing, the sidewalks are constantly giving out, and you're always about to step on a lizard), and was nearly hit by cars twice. It's not like they don't watch for pedestrians in Jacksonville; it's like they've never heard of pedestrians.
There on the golf course, Mike stepped to the tee, lifted the club, and--poooock!--knocked the ball straight/high/long down the fairway. Behind him, there was a white heron poking along the bank of a pond and, beyond that, staring straight at me, steely and proud, the white letters of a McCain/Palin sign in someone's backyard. Mike got his degree in business administration from a college in California last year and then, in a move that still amazes me, joined the Army. One of the advantages of joining the Army with a college degree is that you can start as an officer, but such was the state of Army recruiting a year ago among people with college degrees that the guys behind the desk in the recruiting office had to dig up a manual to figure out how to sign him up when he walked in the door.
Mike's a Republican, a semi-Libertarian, an action-movie fan, a born warrior, and easily the most virtuous of my three brothers--honest, humble, hardworking, funny, self-deprecating, easygoing. He doesn't make a theater of his opinions, the way the rest of us do. He's not a meat head. He voted for Kerry in 2004 because, as he explained to me at the time, "Bush is an idiot." A couple months ago, bored out of his mind at an Army base in Oklahoma, he bought and read Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father because I told him how good I thought it was, and then he did me better by reading John McCain's Faith of My Fathers, which he liked better. I tried to make a case about the importance of Obama having written his own book, but it crumbled in mid-air. For a military guy, McCain's war story is hard to set aside on a technicality. Most of the guys in the Army are voting for McCain. "Except for the black guys," Mike says.
Ever since he read Faith of My Fathers, Mike's been leaning toward McCain, but since he's not big on pronouncements, his way of telling me that has been to say he hasn't made up his mind. And cuz I love the guy, and cuz I know he knows what I think, and cuz I don't want to spend the little time we ever get to talk hassling him, I haven't been bugging him about it. But seeing Sarah Palin's name in bright white there on the golf course, and later by the side of the road where our hotel was, and later in the front yard of a house next to the house where we went to a pre-wedding party for our older brother who was getting married--which is why we were all in Florida in the first place--I got up the nerve to ask Mike what he made of the possibility of Sarah Palin as commander in chief. This, I was pretty sure, would score me a couple points. But never one to fight, he grinned and said something neutral and changed the subject.
Our dad was in the Air Force. Our older brother, the one getting married, is in the Navy (he's the one I wrote about years ago in this piece, parts of which are regrettably stupid [the lack of understanding of Iraq's history, the part where I hold forth on what Iraqis "want"]). Our grandpa was in the Marines during World War II--was a hand-to-hand combat instructor, lost a bunch of buddies in Japan--and then a conservative politician in California. I sat next to grandpa at the wedding rehearsal dinner and asked him the Sarah-Palin-as-commander-in-chief question. Even though he is a true right radical (thinks teachers get paid too much, thinks the plight of black people has been "overdramatized," he wrote a bill when he was in the California legislature that would allow Christian Scientist parents to let their children die of easily remedied medical conditions), I suspected that the idea of Sarah Palin giving orders to the Marines would freak his shit out. No such luck. He smiled and told me that he loved Sarah Palin because unlike most politicians, who don't tell you the truth, she says what she believes, no matter what it is. Like how she doesn't believe dinosaurs existed or whatever.
My dad, now a vice president at Northrop Grumman, the military contractor, lives in Virginia and is voting for McCain and there's nothing that will sway him. He laughs whenever I bring it up. His wife, my stepmom, is voting likewise, though they both are resigned to the probability that Virginia will go for Obama anyway.
As for Mike--well, when I sat down to write this post, I didn't exactly know where things stood. As far as I knew, his heart was still with McCain. He just finished field artillery (i.e., blowing shit up) school in Oklahoma and drove to Texas last week for his new assignment in El Paso. I sent him a text last night to ask him how Texas was treating him and whether he'd made up his mind about the election. He texted back to say:
I already voted Obama. Texas seems okay I guess. Definitely better than Oklahoma.
Are you getting shit from your pals in the army? Or do they not know who you voted for?
They know. Both my roommates voted too. They both went McCain but I guess they were on the wall.
I wanted to know what did it for him, what put him over the wall. He texted back:
Republican party, palin, and the neverending "redistribution of wealth" (that's what the government does!) needed better argument. SHIT'S WEAK
Mike Frizzelle, ladies and gentlemen.
Ladies and gentlemen, once again... The McCainiacs!
Josh Feit, previously of the Stranger, as well as Horse's Ass editor David Goldstein (AKA Goldy) was kicked out of Dino Rossi's news conference yesterday because, according to a Republican operative, he worked for a "partisan" publication, Horsesass.com. Bruce Ramsey, an editorial writer for "nonpartisan" Seattle Times--which just happened to endorse Rossi--was allowed in, and today he called bullshit on the Rossi camp's double standard.
Being an employee of a big paper, I have hardly ever had that happen to me. The one time I remember was in the 90s as a business reporter being denied entry to a stockholder meeting of the Fisher Companies, which was then under SEC rules a public company. I was furious--shaking--and a good deal less polite to the Fisher vice-president who kicked me out than Goldy was yesterday--and I don't regret anything I said to that Fisher man, or about him, thereafter. My experience wasn't exactly the same as Goldy's, but close enough.
Obviously, a lawyer holding a press conference in his private offices may let in who he likes and exclude who he likes. It may well be, as Goldy suspects, that they excluded him because he's anti-Rossi, and because his style of expression is less than genteel. Maybe even the name of his blog has something to do with it. But for the record: Goldy is part of the media in Seattle. People who follow politics know who he is. They read him. Whether Feit is paid, or how much he is paid, is beside the point. We are not media because of how much money we make, or that we make any at all. We are media because of what we do.
I can only add: The only time I've ever been asked to leave a press event was at a press conference held by the anti-monorail campaign in 2003--and I'm still pissed. People who work with the media need to learn that you get better press by letting the media (even the partisan media!) in than by excluding them.
According to the BBC:
Yeah! I'm going out and getting pregnant right now!
Audience members escorted out of Sen. John McCains, R-Ariz., campaign event in Cedar Falls questioned why they were asked to leave Sundays rally even though they were not protesting.
...Lara Elborno, a student at the University of Iowa, said she was approached by a police officer and a McCain staffer and was told she had to leave or she would be arrested for trespassing.
It was a very confusing, very frustrating situation, Elborno said. I said that I had a right to be there, I wasnt doing anything disruptive I was sitting, waiting for the rally to start.
...I saw a couple that had been escorted out and they were confused as well, and the girl was crying, so I said Why are you crying? and she said I already voted for McCain, Im a Republican, and they said we had to leave because we didnt look right, Elborno said. They were handpicking these people and they had nothing to go off of, besides the way the people looked.
Way to protect our freedom, there, Johnny Mac.
Also in my top 10.
"Capitol Hill Ghost Tour" is an anagram for "a torchlight polio slut."
You damn kids! You want horror? In my day, the real face of horror was Jason Voorhees! And we liked it! We loved it! He even went to Manhattan! Like the Muppets! What's that? "What's a Muppet?" Get off my lawn!
In the last issue of The Stranger, I attempted to evaluate the worthiness of some of your darkest fears about how the election will go. You know, things like: Will the October surprise turn out to be that Obama faked his U.S. citizenship? Will martial law be declared so Bush can have a third term? Will the Bradley effect dash the Democrats' dreams?
Today, overlapping slightly with what I wrote, but providing a far more detailed debunking of fears and rumors, is a new Politico piece by Ben Smith. In it, he takes on all the nastiest alleged stories that emailers have been demanding reporters write about so that the public can know THE TRUTH before Election Day.
It's a pretty great list, and a very interesting read, covering such topics as: Obama's citizenship (also explored here), "the C-word," that Whitey Tape from way back when, and some other things you may not have known you needed to worry aboutthe Forrestal incident, Raila Odinga, and a sexy holiday in Fiji for example.
If you're sending or receiving impassioned emails about political cover-ups that the press is ignoring, defintely read this before you do any more fretting.
A few weeks ago, I had intended to track key metrics in the credit markets as a sadistic means of removing all joy from the world. Then I came to my senses. Calculated Risk beat me to it anyways, with a daily tracker. According to those numbers, while many things have improved in the credit markets since the bailout went into effect--from all-time historical highs to merely untenable highs--we're nowhere close to normal.
The bailout plan, first proposed by Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs banker Henry Paulson, was intended to loosen up these markets, returning them closer to normal. Thus far, the bailout measures have added about a trillion dollars to the national debt and left the credit markets improved, but still non-functional. And, it appears as if most of those credit improvements were due to direct governmental intervention, rather than a true improvement in investor confidence.
The two models of the bailout can be exemplified by the bailouts of Bear Stearns and AIG.
For Bear Stearns, the government bought up their impossible-to-value toxic debt. No returns on that investment yet:
The Federal Reserve reduced the estimated value of the Bear Stearns Cos. assets it took on in June by $2.7 billion, or 9.2 percent, as the worsening credit crisis forced more markdowns on mortgage-backed debt.
And with AIG, the taxpayers took control of the company in return for desperately needed cash to keep the enterprise running. Initially, we provided $85 billion for a controlling share of AIG, followed by an additional $35 billion. How did that work out? The heads of AIG apparently lied about just how ugly the situation was and is. The $120 billion or so of taxpayer dollars we lent to them is already gone, with the company still teetering on failure. Take it away, NYT:
The American International Group is rapidly running through $123 billion in emergency lending provided by the Federal Reserve, raising questions about how a company claiming to be solvent in September could have developed such a big hole by October. Some analysts say at least part of the shortfall must have been there all along, hidden by irregular accounting.
You dont just suddenly lose $120 billion overnight, said Donn Vickrey of Gradient Analytics, an independent securities research firm in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The revelations that things were worse at AIG than expected led to the collapse of several insurance company stocks today, with many losing a quarter to a half of their total value.
How bad are the credit markets? Well, investors in the world's largest--and first--Money Market fund still cannot get their money back, over a month after it was frozen. The fund lost a tremendous amount of assets after Lehman Brothers collapsed. It gets worse. A second fund managed by the same company, that was supposed to only invest in government debt, also has been frozen--perhaps evidence the Reserve Fund company, in an attempt to hide their losses in their primary fund, took and lost money from investors in the government fund.
At least 400,000 people, and perhaps as many as a million, cant get access to their savings, a problem that has quietly persisted in spite of widely publicized federal efforts to restore confidence in money-fund investments....
Initially, the company simply announced that it would delay redemptions from the Primary Fund for up to seven days, as allowed by law. Customers were somewhat reassured, but anyone trying to get additional information was met with busy phone lines and unanswered e-mail.
The news occasionally posted on the funds Web site got steadily worse. On Sept. 18, investors in a host of other Reserve money funds learned that their money would be tied up for as long as a week; that delay later became open-ended. On Sept. 19, the fund delayed redemptions from both the Primary Fund and the US Government Fund indefinitely.
Why would anyone entrust their money to a system where the lies and deceit are still being uncovered?
In the meantime, enter Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke--former economics professor and expert on the Great Depression.
His prescription: The government should spend money, even if it means running up even more debt. Spend on everything, including another round of checks. Enough with trying to save the financial system. If the credit markets are beyond short-term salvation, it's time to try to save the citizens of the country. You know, the Democratic plan, costing a (now paltry-seeming) $300 billion.
And the man he endorsed to spend the money, as his choice for the next president? Obama.
To summarize, in the Golob-scale-of-economist-panic, after a brief bit of optimism in the shadow of the trillion dollar Hail Mary pass to save the financial markets, and its subsequent failure to help enough, we're at six beakers by now:
You don't have to take my word for it. Let the San Francisco Fed president Janet Yellen's gloom be your confirmation.
And now some Muppets to make things feel better:
I know there's a lot of Maddow love here on Slog. So here's a brief preview of tonight's big interview, in which she tries (and apparently fails) to get Obama to say something mean about Republicans:
Before his show at Nectar this Saturday, Paul Miller (DJ Spooky) will be doing a book thing for one pot.
I will be there to talk about Paul Miller, and Paul Miller will be there to talk about his new book Sound Unbound. Because our friendship goes all the way back to 1996, my plan is to present a detailed history of that friendship (it's ups and downs) and also a list of the five most curious moments we have shared.
First thing in the mail: A mailer from Chris Gregoire that bails on the issues and instead puts the weight on being an Obama hanger-on. "If the policies supported by a new White House are blocked here at home in Washington state, that won't do us any good." That's it? Blanket Obama support? Uh... refreshing.
But what got my attention was the address label:
That reads Samuel MacHkovech (thanks for hitting the auto-Irish button, I guess) and Andrew. Andrew? He's my duplex neighbor, and we have different mailboxes. At first, I thought Dems might be cutting corners and co-mailing flyers to people registered at the same address... but my girlfriend's registered here as well. She didn't get this one.
If two guys live in the same building and they're registered as Dems, I guess Chris Gregoire is bright enough to dismiss a household's fag-hag and see what's really going on. These guys are gay. And Irish.
Second thing in the mail: Got an envelope from an old buddy today, addressed to Sam "Motherfucker" Machkovech, and the only things inside were a check for some owed money and this utterly random photo of a tied-up monkey with a diaper:
I'm not sure which of the two mail items affected me more.
Thanks for the heads up, Towleroad.
I've already posted about crazy "Atlas Shrugs" super-conserva-blogger Pamela Gellar, who thinks Obama's dad is not his dad. She used to have a whole bunch of theories. But now she knows:
How could we not have noticed this before? They're both, after all, black! That's some fine work, Atlas Shrugs. The Pulitzer will be delivered by covert CIA black helicopters so the United Nations can't take it away from you.
Meet Dave the Gay Plumber:
A Long Island plumber whose marriage had crumbled after he admitted to his wife that he was gay told cops he laced her coffee with cyanide because he couldn't bear to see her with anyone else, cops said yesterday.
The mother of two, Maureen Steeves, 41, suffered massive damage to major organs and is brain dead. She isn't expected to recover.
David Steeves said he hatched the plot to poison her because "I can't stand the thought of her being with someone else," according to Suffolk County police.
Welcome to Obama, Japan:
In Obama City this stirred interest. A local Buddhist monk, Mr. Tamaga wa, suggested to the mayor then, Toshio Murakami, that he contact the senator, which he did, sending him a letter and a set of local lacquered chop sticks. An Obama support committee was formed, T-shirts were printed, ties manufactured, support rallies held, the Obama Girls, a 70-strong Hawaiian Hula dancing group, gave performances (Senator Obama was born in Hawaii), and an Obama for Obama campaign became fully fledged.
Senator Obama has since thanked the town for their gifts and support, saying I look forward to a future marked by the continued friendship of our two great nations and a shared commitment to a better, freer world. As his profile has risen so has the attention generated by the Obama for Obama campaign, but has all this effort translated into more business? The committee is pragmatic. Mr Fujiwara, the chairman, explained that all over Japan the economy had been dropping, but they had managed, because of the Obama for Obama effort, to keep their economy level.
While the initial motivation for the connection was to boost local business two of the key members of the support committee are Mr. Sano, who runs two souvenir shops selling a good selection of Obama goods, and Mr. Fujiwara, who runs one of Obamas largest hotels there is a genuine sense of real support for the senator. Like most of the world, they are disgusted by the Bush presidency and see Obama as a beacon of hope.
I'm sure many Halloween party-throwers are really grateful to Some Guy With a Website for making this sign:
You can get a full-page PDF to print and post here.
Has anyone else been following the tragic death of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander via its Twitter feed?
It's bizarrely affecting.
Not sure how soon arm will freeze after 1st heater is turned off. Depends on the weather. But saving that power (250 watt hrs/sol) is good.
I should stay well-preserved in this cold. I'll be humankind's monument here for centuries, eons, until future explorers come for me ;-)
Many questions about next Martian summer and will I wake up? It is beyond expectations. But if it happens you'll be among the 1st to know.
In case we don't get this chance again, thank you all so much for the questions, comments & good wishes over the mission. It's been awesome
According to Assistant UW Police Chief Ralph Robinson, a 61-year-old Asian man poured gasoline on himself in Red Square and lit himself on fire earlier this afternoon.
The man was transported to Harborview with second and third-degree burns. His current condition is unknown.
Robinson says police have not determined whether the man was a faculty member or student or what motivated the incident. "Thats probably the number one question we all have," Robinson says.
UW just sent out this message to students:
Dear UW Students,
Many of you may have witnessed or heard about the tragic incident on Red Square today in which a former UW employee set fire to himself. Sadly he died later at Harborview Medical Center, our condolences go out to his family. We all recognize that it was a terrifying and painful thing for people to see. After witnessing a traumatic event you may experience a number of reactions; shock, fear, sadness, or heightened emotions. The University has a number of offices available to help you get through this time.
According to Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Dana Vander Houwen, witnesses report that a 61-year-old man poured gasoline on himself in Red Square and lit himself on fire.
The man is being transported to Harborview.
We'll update as more information becomes available.
If an enterprising YouTuber out there wants to bust out a preview for Joe the Plumber's Crackthe porn title pro-America parts of the country need to see before TuesdayI'll do all I can to get it seen by the widest possible audience.
From Slog tipper Benjamin:
I work at the UW and have a view of red square from my office. Someone apparently just lit themselves on fire in red square. We saw lots of white smoke and a large crowd. The fire is out and someone is down. Fire department and ambulance have arrived and are taking the person away. No word on motivation, protest, or anything. Can't see much but the current webcam pic is here:
I'm paraphrasing, but that subject-line statement is essentially the pick-up line used by a Catholic priest who allegedly slept with a woman he met in his confessional.
From ABC News:
A Catholic priest allegedly seduced a distraught woman after hearing her confession, telling her to have an affair with him because it was "ordained by God," the Queens, N.Y., woman claims in a lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Father Elvis Elano professed his love for her immediately after her first confession at the Church of Our Lady of the Snows in Queens, N.Y. "Your presence struck me like a thunderbolt," Elano allegedly told Rodrigues-Lytwyn, who says she was distraught over her recent divorce and her ex-husband's alleged drug use.
The lawsuit, first reported by The Smoking Gun, claims Elano immediately began courting her and encouraging her to have sex with him to overcome her grief over her divorce and "because it was ordained by God."
Rodrigues-Lytwyn "immediately became overwhelmed" by Elano's advances and embarked on a four-month-long affair with him, the lawsuit says.
Extra-creepy closing details:
According to the lawsuit, Elano ordered Viagra over the Internet and arranged sexual encounters with Rodrigues-Lytwyn at her house and at a hotel in Montauk, N.Y. She claims she broke off her relationship after Elano admitted that he had developed a rash in his groin area and legs.
So, God ordained the affair, but refused to help Father Elano with his erectile disfunction or protect the priest from whatever rashed up his groin. Full story here.
So what's up with advice columnists and the Gettysburg Address this week?
In your reply to Congenital Invert on October 30 you said, "But the world will little note, nor long remember the names you came up with for your long list of impossible and/or improbable sex acts."
I also read "Dear Prudence" at Slate.com. In her October 30th column, in response to Boo Hoo (whose husband chose to go hunting instead of taking his 2 and 4 year old children trick-or-treating) she says, "You're right, at ages 2 and 4, your children will little note nor long remember that they had to face this year's trick-or-treating without their father."
I enjoy the references to other writer's works, and in these cases you both used Lincoln's words to good effect. (Although I do think the contrast you made between the Gettysburg address and sex acts was much more striking.) But I'm just curious: Was this a coincidence, or is it Abraham Lincoln week for advice columnists? Do I need to look up Carolyn Hax's columns this week to see if she's received letters from anyone four score and seven years of age?
Well, the secret is outI'm writing both "Savage Love" and "Dear Prudence." Want more proof? Check out the first letter in Prudence's October 30th column, Sloggers. Case closed.
This is pretty funny...