The PDC, WA State Civics

Dear Group,

We, as residents of Washington State, pay dues for our membership in this State. Some of these dues are used to fund a state agency called the Public Disclosure Commission. The PDC is an important part of the civics of Washington State. Allow me to introduce you.

The Public Disclosure Commission is the only Agency of the Washington State government created by a vote of the people. In 1970 a group of concerned citizens calling themselves the Coalition for Open Government (COG) gathered signatures for Initiative 276. Initiative 276 appeared on the 1972 General Election Ballot and passed with 72% of the vote. Twenty years later, in 1992, Initiative 134 passed by a similar margin. Initiative 134 established contribution limits and other campaign restrictions governing electoral conduct for elections in the State of Washington.. 

Think about that. The Public Disclosure Commission was established with overwhelming support from the voters of Washington State, voters who wanted to make the electoral process in Washington State and the money that flows within it more transparent. I encourage you to click and read Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission, Its mission, services, and data files for a great overview. (I found this document in a few clicks via the Wikipedia entry under Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.)

I’ve been a resident of Washington State since 1985. I am embarrassed to admit that prior to November, 2016, I was unaware of the Public Disclosure Commission, and until the day of this writing I did not know the first thing about the PDC’s origin. 

The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) offers a wealth of useful information about election related spending of candidates, lobbyists, and independent election related expenditures for all offices and initiatives within Washington State. Candidates for federal office, i.e. the United States Senate and House of Representatives, work under the rules of the Federal Election Commission. (Interesting note: the FEC, like the PDC, was established in the early 1970s.) The PDC and FEC have to distinct websites, and

As a small example of the utility of Public Disclosure Commission data let’s ask, “Who is gathering money to run in the August Washington State Primary for office in the City of Spokane?” I urge you to follow along. Go to, click “Browse” and choose “Candidates by Office Sought.” Set to Election Year “2019.” Leave the setting at “Show All Campaigns.” Scroll down and Click “Municipal” and under that click “City of Spokane” (or anything else of interest). 

Today, for the purpose of illustration, under “City of Spokane,” click “Mayor, City of Spokane.” There you see seven candidates. The only one I recognize is Ben Stuckart, the current President of the City of Spokane City Council. The Spokesman posted an article mentioning his candidacy for Mayor a few weeks ago. Who knew there were six others already raising money to run for Mayor?

Who is this Shawn Poole? He is reporting having raised over $7000. Click his name. Note that $1000 comes from what is presumably his business, “Pooles Public House.” Google “Shawn Poole.” There you will find, a website that will quickly introduce you to his political bent. (Municipal offices are nominally “non-partisan,” but…)

No one wins an election with raising money. The Public Disclosure Commission tells who has started to gather funds and how much. Others may still appear. Candidates officially file to run in the August Primary between Monday, May 13, 2019 and Friday, May 17, 2019.  Nonetheless, visiting the PDC now offers advance notice. 

I present this by way of orientation readily available data. Use it. I hope never again to receive a ballot for an August Primary Election and wonder, “What election is this?” or “Who are these people?” One of these candidates will ultimately represent (or pretend to represent) my interests as a citizen. It behooves me to learn about the candidates before I’m asked to vote. 

Keep to the high ground,


Free Market Medicine?

Dear Group,

In keeping with yesterday’s post of a locally placed, thinly disguised ad by an impressive group of pharmaceutical companies aimed at insuring their continued profits I encourage you to:

Click and read My Wife’s Expensive Cancer Drug, Doug Muder’s January 14, 2019 entry for his weekly email blog, the Weekly Sift. I have written of my own experience with our un-free market pharmaceutical pricing system in this country. Mr. Muder looks at it in greater depth through his personal experience with his wife’s cancer treatment. 

Keep to the high ground,


P.S.  I encourage you, in the left hand column of The Weekly Sift webpage, to sign up to receive Doug Muder’s weekly email, delivered to your inbox. I find it a level-headed bird’s eye view of the latest national news. I look forward to reading it every Monday. 

Who is Speaking, Physician or Drug Company?

Dear Group,

Yesterday I posed this question:

Question: A paid opinion piece appeared in the Spokesman with McMorris Rodger’s name on it some time in the month of January, likely two to three weeks ago. The substance was a critique of a recently offered bill in the U.S. House that would regulate pharmaceutical pricing. The author insisted the bill was needless meddling in the operations of the free market. Can anyone put their finger on that piece and send me a link? 

Just one reader, Jim Wavada, emailed me with the ad that appears above. That tells me that most readers did not notice it or find it memorable (a good thing in my estimation). By word of mouth I had the impression the ad was BY McMorris Rodgers, not a plea to call her about an issue, So much for the accuracy of verbal impressions. This is an ad from a special interest group paying good money to raise fear and worry among Seniors over an unspecified “Risky HHS Medicare Plan.” 

So what is interesting about this ad? The “Alliance for Patient Access” claims it is “a national network of physicians dedicated to ensuring patient access to approved therapies and appropriate clinical care.” However, at the very bottom of the “About” page in fine print is this: Financial support of AfPA and IfPA is acknowledged here, Click that link and one finds an impressive list of pharmaceutical companies, the real money behind what is clearly a political/lobbying endeavor on behalf of drug companies, NOT independent physicians advocating for the benefit of patients. 

The Alliance for Patient Access Home Page shows twenty-six for official looking logos of organizations I, as a physician, have never heard of. The impression is one of physicians working together in a valiant effort to make sure the government doesn’t tamper with patients’ access to innovative medications. Only in the fine print do you find the logos represent “web pages.”

This ad, appearing in our local newspaper, likely cost something in the ballpark of $1500 to place. Even multiplied by tens or hundreds of other newspapers that money is still a pittance for drug companies to stir up angst among elderly readers and encourage them to call their Congresspeople. The Alliance for Patient Access is a cleverly disguised effort to push back against early efforts to rein in drug prices by promoting fear in the electorate.

In my estimation the Alliance for Patient Access fits right in with dark money non-profits like the Washington Policy Center and American Legislative Exchange Council, thinly disguised efforts to promote Republican/Libertarian policies.

Ads like these attempt to shape public opinion to suit the agenda of special interests. It behooves us to pay attention to the financial backing. They don’t make it easy.

Keep to the high ground,


P.S. Other readers pointed me to “Liberals dare Trump to back their bills lowering drug prices“, an interesting article I had also missed. Thank you to those who brought my attention to it.


Dear Group,

I am in transit and taking the day off. Back tomorrow.

Question: A paid opinion piece appeared in the Spokesman with McMorris Rodger’s name on it some time in the month of January, likely two to three weeks ago. The substance was a critique of a recently offered bill in the U.S. House that would regulate pharmaceutical pricing. The author insisted the bill was needless meddling in the operations of the free market. Can anyone put their finger on that piece and send me a link? It appeared in the Spokesman some time this January. Please “Reply” to this email if you recall it and can offer a link. Thanks. (I was unable to locate it using the Search function in the Spokesman. Perhaps Search does not include paid ads. I suspect, but do not know, that the piece was funded by a drug company.)

Keep to the high ground,


Emerge, Candidate Training

Dear Group,

Does the whole political process seem opaque to you, hopelessly complicated? Do you know someone you think might have the stuff it takes to make a real difference in an elected office? Have you ever toyed with the idea yourself, but you couldn’t imagine where to start? 

We have municipal elections coming up in August and November all over the State of Washington. It’s not too late (or too early) to start paying attention either as a voter or as a potential candidate. Candidacies don’t just happen the week before the election, it takes preparation and understanding of the process. 

I want to introduce you to a group with which I became acquainted at the Women’s March (these rallies offer great information and networking besides building enthusiasm). is a national organization offering interested Democratic women a manageable boot camp educational experience in the nuts and bolts of running for office. Best of all, Washington State already has an affiliate up and running, Click on that link and explore a bit. There are programs statewide with courses and real people engaged on this side of the mountains.  The full program starts in January and goes through May, for those that might want to apply for next year’s election cohort. Last year’s Emerge cohort included Jessa Lewis and Kay Murano, who both ran good races last year. It also included Tabitha Wolf, who has just filed to run for Spokane City Council in District 1 this year.

Interested in running for office in the municipal elections this fall? There is an intensive “boot camp.” This spring the east side boot camp is held at Reid Campus Center at Whitman College in Walla Walla the weekend of April 23rd to 26th. Here is an email quote from one of last year’s participants: “The bootcamp is intensive, and crams as much information as possible into a long weekend.  I learned a lot, and expect to learn that much more in the full program. Emerge does a good job of helping to build a strong network.  It’s treated as a sisterhood of sorts, and I see relationship building as an added advantage of the longer program in particular.” 

Curious? For more information contact Karen at or Alyson (my eastern WA contact with this organization and a recent graduate) at

It’s time to get off the sidelines. Emerge offers a route through a major impediment: the perception that it’s all too complicated. It is time to take back our country, starting locally…

Keep to the high ground,


Local Civics, Part I

Dear Group,

From Wikipedia: The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines civics as “the study of the rights and duties of citizens and of how government works.” The definition from is: “the study or science of the privileges and obligations of citizens.”

This year in August and November we, as citizens of communities in Washington State, will receive ballots asking us to vote on candidates for “municipal” elections. If you’re like I have been most of my life, you will be a little startled. “Who are these people?” If you’re diligent, you will go in search of information. You may be overcome by a sense of despair as you realize how hard it is to acquire clear and honest information about the candidates, there real values, who they are as people.

So we need to start now. For me, first that means getting a bird’s eye view of the electoral map of my particular registered voting location. I cannot do this for every town in Washington State, but I can offer insight into how you might gather information for your locality as I present my bird’s eye view from my perch in District 2 of the City of Spokane. 

Tool Number One: Click. Read. Every time I go there I learn something new. This time ask yourself who your local elected officials are. Click “My Elected Officials,” scroll down and click “City/Town” and “Other.” For me in the City of Spokane, I see my officials are Mayor David Condon, City Council President Ben Stuckart, and District 2 Council people Lori Kinnear and Breean Beggs. Some several of these folks will be on the ballot I receive in August and November this year. Which ones?

I’m a little embarrassed to disclose the route I took to answer this question: I emailed and spoke with my City of Spokane, District 2, Council Members, both of whom were very helpful. Only later did it dawn on me the basic information must be in the City of Spokane City Charter–a document available to read on the City of Spokane website. Here it is: Section 5, Elected Officials. You can think of the Charter as the City version of the U.S. Constitution (writ small and in modern English). 

The very basic facts about the City elected offices:

1) The Mayor and City Council President are elected City-wide.

2) The six Council Members are elected by the voters of each of their Districts (see map). There are two Council Members per District. One of the two Council seats in each District is up for re-election every two years. 

3) The Mayor and City Council President positions are up for re-election this year (2019) and every four years along with the three City Council members who hold seat number 1 in their respective Districts. This year that’s Mike Fagan (District 1-NE Spokane-who cannot run again since he’s served two terms), Lori Kinnear (District 2-South Hill plus), and Karen Stratton (District 3-NW Spokane). 

4) All eight of these seats are for four year terms and each seat is term limited to two terms! (That was news to me.) Of course, having served two terms as a Council person, one might run for the first of what could be two terms as Mayor or City Counsel President. 

5) The three Municipal Court Judges are also City of Spokane elected officials. Like the other eight they serve four year terms. They do not appear on the 2019 ballot. Instead, they will appear in 2021 and each four years thereafter along with the Council Members occupying seat number 2 of their respective Districts. The Municipal Court Judges are elected City-wide.

Spend a few minutes today to orient yourself in your electoral map. One hint: I found it easier to get to the City Charter of the City of Spokane by googling it than navigating the City of Spokane website. You might find the same thing for the city or town in which you live. 

Keep to the high ground,


CMR’s “Waste of time”

Dear Group,

We’re being lulled. McMorris Rodgers’ justification for voting against bills (since passed by the House and waiting on McConnell’s desk), bills that would end Trump’s shutdown, should be met with knee-slapping, howling derision. 

Her justification from her website for voting against H.J.Res 1: 

For bills to reach the president’s desk in a divided government, both parties must work together to responsibly govern. It’s time to make deals. Unfortunately, Democrats signaled through this legislation that they would rather waste time on bills the Senate won’t consider and the president won’t sign. Speaker Pelosi pledged this Congress will be ‘bipartisan and unifying.’ She should stick to her word and come to the table to negotiate.

Wow. Think about that statement for a moment. How many dozens of times during the Obama administration did she vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Never once did the repeal she voted for stand a chance of being signed into law, yet she voted for repeal time and time again. Were those votes a “waste of time?” She applies “waste of time” at her convenience. Is it a “waste of time” to reopen the government? Is it a waste of time to vote to pass bills already passed by the Senate in the previous (115th Congress), bills McConnell now refuses to bring to the floor in a blatant display of partisanship? 

Is she enjoying the Trump shutdown? Apparently. It hasn’t curtailed her travel or kept her in D.C. to work on a solution. She was among the honored guests at the MLK Day Annual Commemorative Celebration at the Holy Temple of God in Christ at 806 W. Indiana Ave. Sunday afternoon during MLK weekend. 

She and most (but not all) of her Republican cohort is content to sit by and watch the country slowly unravel as their petulant child of a President holds the country hostage hoping to get his way. 

It keeps appearing in the news that Republican Congresspeople are receiving high volumes of calls, texts, emails and tweets in support of the shutdown. The zealots are activated. We need to Republican Congresspeople aware there is a cost to their complicity. Contact the folks who are supposed to represent you. Encourage those who want the country to function again and register your disapproval with those who sit by, conveniently dismissing actions by Congress to end Trump’s grandstand. Here are the numbers:


Spokane Office       (509) 353-2374

Colville Office         (509) 684-3481

Walla Walla Office  (509) 529-9358

D.C. Office              (202) 225-2006

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)

D.C. Office          (202) 224-2621

Spokane Office  (509) 624-9515

Yakima Office     (509) 453-7462

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

D.C. Office          (202) 224-3441

Spokane Office  (509) 353-2507

Richland Office  (509) 946-8106

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)

D.C.  202-224-6142

North ID,  208–664-5490

Sen. James Risch (R-ID)

D.C. 202-224-2752

Coeur d’Alene  208-667-6130

Rep. Russ Fulcher (new R, ID)

(202) 225-6611 

Then call Call/Email Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and ask him to bring the House-passed bills to the Senate floor for a vote. He needs to let the Senate do its job. Phone: (202) 224-2541. 

Keep to the high ground,