Russ Lehman

Russ Lehman

9 Posts
A Healthy Democracy Requires Transparency; Then Why Do Lawmakers Seek to Limit the Powers of the Public Disclosure Commission?

A Healthy Democracy Requires Transparency; Then Why Do Lawmakers Seek to Limit the Powers of the Public Disclosure Commission?

In 1972 the Washington state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) was created by the dogged determination of a small group of citizens with the radical notion that transparency and disclosure are essential for a healthy and vibrant democracy. With I-276, (you didn’t really think the legislature would create it did you?) the voters passed the measure, by a phenomenal 72% to 28% margin, voting to require financial disclosures about political campaigns, lobbying contributions, and expenditures, and for a prohibition against use of public facilities in electoral politics.  It is especially helpful, and informative, after the passage of time, and with the resulting experience, to…
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The Unbearable Insecurity of our Leaders

The Unbearable Insecurity of our Leaders

 That many politicians are walking paradoxes of narcissism and arrogance mixed with emotional fragility and insecurity is certainly no epiphany. Our former President offers textbook writers the perfect model for the havoc that a man-child with power can wreak.  Like many traits/foibles/idiosyncrasies, however, there are far more similarities than we might like to admit about many in power – notwithstanding their political ideologies.  The Governor of Washington state has earned accolades for his management of a once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully) crisis with his handling of the Pandemic. He is also considered a national leader on the existential crisis of our time, climate…
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Help People. Do It Fast. Let Everyone Know.

Help People. Do It Fast. Let Everyone Know.

The stress cracks, sagging walls and cleavages in the foundation of our Democracy can continue to be ignored only at our own peril.  The conspiracy theories used to justify sedition. The refusal to acknowledge free and fair elections.  While a number of factors fuel the discontent, there is something the government can do to stem the tide and strengthen the foundation: Help people. Do it fast. Let everyone know.  The public has always been, to varying degrees, sympathetic and supportive of an activist government. People want good schools, clean and healthy food, and plentiful salmon and orcas and are willing to pay (something) for them. Even…
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“There cannot be daily Democracy without daily citizenship.” -Ralph Nader

“There cannot be daily Democracy without daily citizenship.” -Ralph Nader

It is a truism that a real measure of a country is how it treats its least fortunate. It also reveals a Democracy's real commitment to staying one by its measures to protect and nurture its foundation. Notwithstanding two recent crisis-induced changes, real democratic reforms have generally only happened when the public either initiates them or forces its elected leaders to increase transparency, disclosure, and access - despite their inherent reluctance.  As a result of the recent insurrection in our nation's capital, a number of large corporate funders have said they won't donate to those in Congress (for now) who…
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“For this Country to truly “move on” from its inglorious past there needs to first be truth, and then reconciliation.”

“For this Country to truly “move on” from its inglorious past there needs to first be truth, and then reconciliation.”

There has already been much written about least Wednesday’s failed insurrection at the Capitol in D.C., and the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia, and they will likely comprise whole sections of history books. But, because this is 2021 and social media is the omnipresent font of all (instant) reflection, kvetching and pontificating, we can already (unsurprisingly) read/hear what apologists (minus the actual apology) for the coup-attempt think.   The “whataboutism” of modern political discourse, practiced primarily by those who support Donald Trump and most often deployed to distract and divert with false equivalencies away from his plethora of unethical, likely criminal,…
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Kicking The Can Down The Road

Kicking The Can Down The Road

It's time to get serious about gun laws. Russ Lehman Well, it’s been about two weeks of relative quiet in Olympia since the city has been the equivalent of the treehouse where the “he-man people haters club” gang meets to rant against, well…civilized society. They are easy to identify – they are the ones with the dangled weaponry, calling themselves “patriots” and waving the signs calling for … a coup.  Yea, that’s the price we pay living in a capital city. Surely there have been many more protests and demonstrations by people representing the “other side” of the political spectrum…
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Voter Turnout in Washington Was 62%, Not 84%

Voter Turnout in Washington Was 62%, Not 84%

This might seem like a weird time to talk about the disengagement of voters in Washington state, right after a “high turnout” presidential election. Sure, the Secretary of State (S.o.S.)  reports that the “turnout” in the state was 84.1%, and that is both better than any result in the past (except when Obama was on the ballot), and sure sounds like a lot. Our S.o.S is elected herself, so it is in her interest to use that high sounding number…even if it is misleading and serves to distract from the woeful, embarrassing, and real meaning of the actual number. The…
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Fees First, Not Furloughs

Fees First, Not Furloughs

Drive through the tunnel in Seattle and it’ll cost you from $1.25 to $4.25. Want to visit a state park? That will cost you from $11.25 to $35. Are you a mental health counselor in WA state? If so, I hope you paid your $150 fee, per year, to the state for the privilege of being licensed. Washingtonians, and many who are just visiting, now have to pay a “fee” for myriad public functions which until relatively recently, were paid for by our taxes. But if you are a lobbyist making $450k a year, or a campaign which spends $25million…
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Should We Have a Non-Partisan Secretary of State?

Should We Have a Non-Partisan Secretary of State?

The freedom to vote and the sanctity, security, and fairness of the franchise is the foundation of a healthy Democracy. As we are experiencing this year, we clearly can’t take that very basic right for granted.  In the midst of a pandemic, we are also constantly being spewed upon by the President, and his enablers, with false and completely politically motivated allegations about our electoral system. The same electoral system was a source of great pride by Americans.  Not anymore, thanks to the constant ranting’s, erroneous as they may be, by Donald Trump.  The management of elections, even those for…
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