What happens in the courthouse...

Unless explicitly noted otherwise, this blog represents my own opinions, not those of any organization (like the Kittitas County Democratic Party) that I might be involved with.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

League of Women Voters Forum

Here's the text of my opening remarks at the LWV Forum last night.

The last time my opponent and I were together in this room, at last week’s Chamber of Commerce forum, I asked him to provide details of the economic plan he’s been talking about through the entire campaign. He hasn’t, yet, and in fact it’s hard to tell what his position is on just about anything.

Tonight I’d like to focus on some of my ideas and plans, and the most important issue is jobs. How do we get more jobs? How do we keep the jobs? Where will the jobs come from? In 2007 we had the lowest unemployment in the history of the county, because of the construction boom. Now we have the highest unemployment in many years because of the construction bust. According to the state economist, it could take 20 years for the construction industry to recover.

It is absolutely essential that we move past the boom-and-bust economy that’s gotten us into this mess. A return to 2007 is simply not possible: the housing bubble has burst, and not only did our leaders get suckered by it, they helped it happen here. This has to change.

Farming, CWU, tourism, and renewable energy are our largest assets, yet they have all been getting less attention than they should as the county has struggled with the mess it has created. Moving on from the latest bust means paying attention to helping farmers get their products to markets faster and cheaper, capitalizing on CWU’s presence, protecting and improving our tourist attractions, and making sure we keep as much of the benefits of renewable energy as possible right here in Kittitas County. At the same time, we need to do a far better job of motivating economic progress in all parts of the county.

Getting farm products to market cheaper and faster means being fully involved with the state’s 20-year transportation plan, which is being finalized and implemented right now. Capitalizing on CWU’s presence means actively working with CWU administration and faculty, not ignoring them as we have in the past, and supporting CWU in the legislature. Protecting and improving our tourist attractions means preserving some of the best rural and forest land in the entire state, and using county physical assets to attract tourists. Insuring that as much of the benefits of renewable energy projects remain here means negotiating smarter and tougher with renewable energy developers. I can talk more specifically about each of these topics as we find the time this evening.

Finally, motivating economic progress means accepting that we live in a totally different economy than we did just a few years ago. Unfortunately, my opponent and his supporters seem to think we can turn back the clock. We can’t.

None of this will be simple or easy.

But in spite of the county’s economic and employment crisis my opponent’s party has endorsed someone who has serious problems with competence, judgment, professionalism, and integrity. Over a week ago I posted documentation of these problems to my blog, available through steveverhey.com, and invited Obie to correct the record. He hasn’t.

In raising these issues, of course, I have naturally invited my opponent to raise similar concerns about me, if he can – after all, nobody’s perfect.

On my blog, in interviews, in chats with voters, in these candidate forums, and in meetings with voters that I organized myself – and invited my opponent to – I have been as clear as I could be about where I stand on the issues that face the county, and why. On the other hand, my opponent seems to have a hard time actually answering questions, so it’s hard to tell where he stands on just about anything. I hope we can hear about his economic plan and get some clear answers this evening.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Supreme Court oral arguments: KC and C. WA Homebuilders vs. E. WA Growth Managment Board

This case was over ten years in the making. A decision isn't expected for several months; meanwhile, it's interesting to watch this.

Putting the O in Obie: 0 for 4 at voter Q&A

Another surprising turnout about the Damman School voter Q&A session, the fourth in the series of meetings I organized to give both Obie and me a chance to meet voters outside Ellensburg.

And another no-show from Obie. He had more than three weeks' notice for this event, yet still could not manage to schedule an appearance.

I learned a huge amount from voters at each of these events, and Obie could have, too. Thanks to everyone who came!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Damman Q&A, fact-checking

From: verheys@hotmail.com
To: obie@writeme.com
Subject: Damman voter Q&A, fact-checking
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 2010 10:57:07 -0700


As you know, I have scheduled the fourth independent Q&A with voter for 6 pm Sunday, October 17 at Damman School. I hope you can make it to this one.

Also, I have posted an annotated version of my opening remarks from last night on my blog. I am perfectly willing to update it if anything I have said is untrue or unfair.

Best wishes,


Verhey for Kittitas County Commissioner
read the blog: whathappensinthecourthouse.blogspot.com
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Chamber of Commerce Forum

Last night's Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce candidates' forum was the first official event of the campaign season, and ballots were mailed yesterday. Unfortunately, the event was not televised and recorded for replay as planned, so I'll share my opening statement here.

Besides, it requires some documentation, because it was rather blunt -- without, I hope, being negative. Here it is:

I’d like to thank the organizers for this opportunity to speak directly to the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce. One elephant in the room tonight is that both of the people listed as Obie O’Brien’s campaign committee are past Executive Directors of the Ellensburg Chamber. Of course they are both acting as private citizens, and of course they made their commitment some time ago; I understand that once the brochures have been printed, it’s hard to change.

Yet, with the county’s economy and employment in crisis, it’s hard to escape the fact that the opponent chosen for me by Jim1, Bob2, and their party3 has problems with competence4, judgment5, professionalism6, and integrity7. He has no real business or higher education experience, only experience as an employee8,9. He has shown no interest in the part of the county outside Ellensburg10. He has no experience with farming except as a part-time irrigator, long ago11. He seems hand-picked to continue the policies that got us into this situation12.

My opponent is running on his government experience, but not his achievements13. One phrase he has repeated in earlier appearances with me is that we need to “make a plan, then follow it.” What is his plan? Tonight I hope we hear details of his plan14; I’ll try to share as many as possible of mine15.

1Jim Armstrong, current member of the Ellensburg Chamber Board and past Executive Director; current Director of CWU Alumni Relations
2Bob Hansen, current Executive Director of the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber is in the process of merging with the Economic Development Group). Mr. Hansen also represents the Lamb Family Property at Ellensburg's west I-90 interchange, a development made possible by Obie's actions on the Ellensburg City Council.
3The Kittitas County Republican Party's platform is here.
4One example of a competence problem is Obie's role as President of the Board of HopeSource. Given that his area of expertise is city government, "Upper County Housing Plan Hits Snag" was a surprising development.
5One example is Obie's statement, during a City Council meeting, that it might be better "just to bulldoze" the Ellensburg train station, rather than protect it by purchasing it.
6During the 2007 election campaign, Obie, then Mayor of Ellensburg, endorsed candidates for City Council in a letter to the editor -- writing in his official capacity, not as a private citizen. I remember being stunned by this; all of the candidates he endorsed were defeated.
7The action listed in the previous footnote was serious enough to be listed here, too.
8Obie's business experience is limited to his work with a cable company in Yakima. In past candidates' forums he has also mentioned that his wife started a business.
9Obie's current job is in media services at CWU. In a quick search of CWU's website I was not able to find a relevant page to link to. See "Welcome Back, Central Students" for some information about my activities at CWU.
10For example, I have organized four outside-of-Ellensburg meetings with voters, and invited Obie. Of the three that have been held so far, he has attended none.
11Obie spoke of this work, which doesn't seem to have been a paying job, at candidates' forums during the primary campaign.
12Obie announced his candidacy very early in the campaign season; his list of donors includes donors who were also very active in the 2006 campaign for this position.
13Two things I can recall Obie citing as accomplishments are the bicycle helmet requirement (which doesn't seem to be enforced, making it bad legislation) and the West Interchange/Lamb Property development (everyone who voted with him was defeated in the election held the week after the City Council vote, and everyone who voted against the measure was re-elected; Obie was not up for re-election that year).
14When someone stresses both their experience and the importance of having a plan, it seems reasonable for voters to expect to see a plan.
15I'll write about my plan in another post very soon.

Some of these items have been on the About Obie page of this blog for months, along with a request for correction if appropriate. I will update this page if any of my statements are unfair or untrue.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Encounters in the County update

This week's three Q&A sessions with voters, in Easton, at the Swauk-Teanaway Grange, and in Kittitas, were really rewarding. Unfortunately, Obie chose not to attend any of them.

I don't know why he didn't/wasn't able to come, because I gave him as much notice as possible, first of what I was planning, then of the full schedule -- so scheduling couldn't be the problem, at least not for all three.

Here's what he missed. He missed good turnouts at Easton and the Grange, and a surprising turnout in Kittitas. He missed citizens who were appreciative that someone made the effort to hear about their concerns and to at least try to answer their questions. Almost all of the citizens were new to me, and there was a wide range of points of view and interests. And, frankly, he missed hearing about a lot of frustration with county government.

The candidate forums organized by the Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters are great, as far as they go. But because candidates from all races are there, and because there is so little time allowed for responses to questions, the chance to really address issues is very limited. That's why I'm organizing separate sessions just for Obie and me. Obie has one more chance to meet citizens and answer their questions directly, at 6 pm at the Damman School on Sunday, October 17. I'll send him another invitation this week, but I thought all you-all would appreciate an update.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Encounters in the County

From: verheys@hotmail.com
To: obie@writeme.com
Subject: RE: Meet the Candidates
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2010 20:01:26 -0700

Whoops, forgot the attachment.


From: verheys@hotmail.com
To: obie@writeme.com
Subject: Meet the Candidates
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 2010 20:00:25 -0700


This ad will start running tomorrow in the Daily Record. I hope you can join me at these -- I will have a data projector available if you'd like to show some PowerPoint slides.

Best wishes,


Verhey for Kittitas County Commissioner
read the blog: whathappensinthecourthouse.blogspot.com
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