How Many Square Feet?

The forces that feed homelessness

Over the holidays I watched “Leave the World Behind” on Netflix. It was both entertaining—and disturbing—well worth the time to watch. The story begins with the wife of a family of four, played by Julia Roberts, arranging an online rental of a house “near the beach” for a weekend getaway. Amanda (Roberts) is an advertising consultant. Dad is a sociology professor. They have two teenager children. They live in a spacious brownstone apartment in New York City. The weekend rental is a very modern, three story house on several wooded acres hinted to be on Long Island, but with an implausible, over-the-water view of a skyscraper skyline. The price tag for the two night, weekend rental (based on later conversation) is at least a couple thousand dollars, which seems to faze no one. Later in the movie, the dad character, played by Ethan Hawke, on at least two occasions (rather implausibly for any college professor I’ve ever known) pulls out his wallet and peels off hundred dollar bills, noting that his credit cards no longer work. 

The rental is owned by a family of three, two of whom we meet later. The dad, played by Mahershala Ali, is well connected and cultured. He works in finance, like so many of the über-wealthy. (As a man of such wealth, why he feels the need to offer this house as a vacation rental is never made clear.) The Long Island rental is wildly open, spacious, and elegant. Each of the bedrooms is big enough to use as a dancehall—even with the beds still in place. One can only imagine the number of square feet per person are under the control of the people depicted in this movie—and that’s without considering that this Long Island rental is just the weekend abode of the owner’s three person family (their “home” is “in the city”).

Obviously, “Leave the World Behind” is fiction—but it mirrors a housing reality that has crept up on us in real life: the average house in the U.S. has massively increased in size even as the average number of people occupying that average house has dwindled. 

Even the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) documents the near doubling of the average square feet per person in new single family homes in the last fifty years. AEI spins this doubling of average living space per person in newly constructed homes as a wondrously good thing—an example of the supposed triumph of free market capitalism. 

But mathematical averages mask a reality AEI would rather not acknowledge. This image comes to mind from a post by Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor.

Over the last forty years of “free market” Republicanism (and “neoliberaleconomics”) it is no secret that changes in the rules that govern how the economy works have been shifted in a way that has sucked wealth upwards. Wages have stagnated while investments and investment income have burgeoned (think of the mostly steady rise of the stock market—as well as the bumpier rise in home prices over those forty years). The painfully obvious rise in visible homelessness is a symptom of this growing wage and wealth gap—a gap that won’t move toward solution until we address the economic rules changes that brought it about in the first place.

The majority of my readers probably belong to the aging Baby Boomer generation, as do I. Many of us (including me) benefitted from excellent, well-funded public schools, relatively affordable college tuition, government-backed low interest mortgage loan programs, and retirement programs that have helped us accumulate some tax-advantaged savings. We lived in a sweet spot in the economic system (at least for white Americans). 

Consider how many square feet of living space you own and more or less exclusively occupy. (The “more or less” is meant to recognize occasional short term rentals, as in Airbnb.) Is it more than the per person average of around 1000 square feet (a square 32 feet on each side)? Now consider the square footage (whether you own one or not) in existing lake homes, massive and only periodically occupied ski homes, ranch getaways (think Ted Turner), and what would otherwise be long term rental square footage now tied up in Airbnbs and VRBOs. Consider that a lot of that square footage may be owned and managed (like an increasing number of long term rental units) by wealthy investment groups that only exist because there is a massive amount of money floating around at the top looking for ways to grow itself. All of the above listed square footage is totally out of reach of the average wage earner with no inherited wealth who struggles to come up with enough money to pay the rent and avoid economic eviction. 

We all noticed the recent heated rise in Spokane’s home prices driven by people moving here with money from sales of homes in higher priced markets. Many home owners complained bitterly (and incorrectly) that since their assessed value had doubled their property taxes would be unaffordable. (Property taxes rose—but not proportional to the rise in assessed value.) What we may not have noticed is that home sales prices rarely drop (2008 is an exception). Instead, fewer homes come on the market as asking prices remain nearly steady. Who wants to sell, give up their square footage, and then be only afford to buy a smaller place with a similar monthly mortgage payment? (This is the conundrum posed by our ubiquitous fixed-rate thirty year mortgage, nearly a U.S. exclusive—but that’s a story for another day—and only one small piece of the puzzle.)

The rules by which the economic game is played have changed in the last forty years. Those changes are driving the wealth and wage disparity we see now that are fueling the relentless increase in homelessness nationwide, but especially in the nation’s most economically vibrant cities. Local governments can and should chip away at economic eviction with zoning changes and rent-rise regulations. They can mount efforts to provide supportive housing for those already rendered homeless, but local governments have little power to address the fundamental rules of the economic game that are fuel to supply of homeless people. Such changes will require state and federal level action—action that will be strongly resisted by Republicans armed with forty years of Republican rhetoric.

Keep to the high ground,


Christmas Stories

Let’s Celebrate Small Victories

It is Christmas Day. As the forces of economic eviction render increasing numbers of our citizens homeless, a few, thanks to dedicated, inspired, and tireless helping hands, find a home. Dan Simonson posted what follows below on his locally-focused Substack, ShelterSpokane (click to visit and join). My post today is a share of a share—and a must read. It made me tear up—and reminded me how appropriate such stories should be to the Christmas season—and all year long.

For orientation: Jewels Helping Hands (JHH) is a local nonprofit that has given support, organization, and a voice to the local homeless. Under the able, hands-on leadership of Julie Garcia, JHH was instrumental in managing Camp Hope and (earlier, before the City closed it) the Cannon Street Shelter. JHH grew organically out of Julie Garcia’s personal efforts to reach out to the homeless starting somewhere around 2018. Her work is based on a combination of her faith and familial experience. In a media climate where the soon-to-be-former Mayor of Spokane and the former Spokane County Sheriff were quick to accuse and condemn, I have had the honor to interact on a number of occasions with Julie Garcia; her husband and JHH’s accountant, Jason Green; and some of the JHH team they have supported and pulled together. I have the utmost respect for their integrity, as well as a tremendous amount of commitment and hard work.

The stories shared below are small victories for the dedicated individuals lending a Helping Hand—and huge victories for these folks newly blessed with a roof over their heads—victories worth celebrating. I encourage you to visit Jewels Helping Hands website here. Donate if you can. Check out the videos. (Note that Maurice Smith, whose words appeared in last Friday’s post, is the documentarian/videographer.) 

Merry Christmas and

Keep to the high ground,


Christmas Stories from Jewels Helping Hands

It is the season to reflect on these stories of heartbreak and healing


December 23, 2023

Ms Julie Garcia <> posted to the Jewels Helping Hands’ Facebook page

(ed. [i.e. Dan Simonson’s] note: be advised – this photo of the little girl sweeping the floor of her new home made me burst into tears. Bless us all, but please bless this little one…):

We [Jewels Helping Hands] got them in a home just in time for Christmas.

My team is fire!

This day has been so emotional.

Today I am thankful to get to be the helper that could have changed my life so many years ago. I used to be this woman, a single mom just trying to survive.

My heart is full.

Watching this beautiful child sweep the entrance to her new home made my entire Christmas. Thank you all who helped and donated. This is what community is supposed to look like.

Ken and I [pictured above] had the pleasure of moving this man into his temporary home. We moved him into a Green House today. We picked him up and he was right where we agreed he’d be today. He said goodbye as his peers cheered for his exit. On our way to the house he told me he has been waiting for this for 16 years. We took him shopping for his necessities and some food to cook. After we set up his bed and he began to settle he told me he was sure he would wake up tomorrow and this wouldn’t be real.

It’s real.

He spoke of his life before homelessness and he said words like “when I get to see my family” and “when……”. Hope. Hope that his life will be better someday. That he is deserving of good as well.

May we wish for others what we wish for ourselves and those we love. Today was an amazing day.

Merry Christmas from ShelterSpokane!!

Dan and Nettie Simonson

Christmas, Inn Keepers, And Homelessness

The Spirit of the Season

The writing copied below comes from the Monday, December 18, email from Maurice Smith to the Spokane Homeless Coalition. With Maurice’s approval I offer it for your consideration as we enter the Christmas weekend. My apologies to any of my readers who may have already seen Maurice’s post on another platform—on the other hand, even if you have seen it, it bears a second reading. 

Keep to the high ground,


Christmas, Inn Keepers, And Homelessness

Maurice Smith

In case you missed it, you’ll find it on page A3 of Sunday’s [December 17] Spokesman: Homelessness soars by record 12 % as COVID support ends, HUD says.  The “money quotes” are in the opening two paragraphs (which I’ve combined below):

“Homelessness in the United States soared by a record 12% between January 2022 and January 2023 as emergency coronavirus pandemic assistance decreased, an estimate published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development shows. The annual assessment provides a snapshot of the number of people living in shelters, in temporary housing and on the streets. It found that more than 650,000 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2023, a 12% increase from 2022 and the highest number of people recorded as experiencing homelessness on a single night since reporting began in 2007.”

This, of course, is the compilation and analysis of all the 2023 Point In Time Counts from across the country, including Spokane. Spokane’s 2022-to-2023 increase was 36%, or three times the national average of 12% reported in the article. And Spokane is quite possibly on track to discover a further increase in area-wide homelessness in the upcoming 2024 PIT Count scheduled for January. According to CMIS data provided to me by third parties, TRAC has seen 1,621 unduplicated individuals pass through the shelter as of November, while some 725 (+) unsheltered individuals have been contacted by outreach workers. If correct, those two numbers (without any other shelters reporting) would place area homelessness at 2,346 individuals, or only 44 people away from the record 2023 PIT Count of 2,390. We might want to take a deep breath and prepare ourselves for this River of Homelessness that is not only flowing through our community, but is potentially rising to flood stage.

Christmas, Inn Keepers, And Homelessness
Today (Monday, the 18th) we’re one week away from Christmas, a season for celebrating family, friends, faith, and goodwill. And after the trauma of the past 4 years (think COVID & politics), celebrating those things is something we all need. But to keep our celebrations in balance, we also need to remember and reflect on those who have far less to celebrate. Personally, I try to take time to reflect on the reality of that first Christmas, one which took place in something less than ideal circumstances and involved a struggling couple, an unwed (but betrothed) teenage mother, and a birth in a cattle stall, because there was no room at the local inn. That’s right. They were effectively homeless, which brings me to a personal story.

One of my first jobs after graduate school, when Gale and I moved to Spokane, was at the Ramada Inn at the Spokane Airport. Yep, I was an “innkeeper.” Well, actually, I was a desk clerk on the 3-to-11 pm shift. Late one November evening, days before Thanksgiving, an elderly gentleman came to the desk looking somewhat disheveled and asking for a room. He explained to me that he had no money or credit cards, but did have a “Money Market Account” draft book and asked if we could accept that in payment (our general policy was “No,” because such accounts at that time were unreliable). He told me that he had just had eye surgery (one of his eyes was bandaged) and was to catch a flight to go and be with his family for the holidays the following day. The rest of the staff urged me to say no – bad risk. But, as the manager on duty at the time, I decided in favor of taking a risk and giving him a room. It was just the right thing to do, I felt. I got him settled in his room, my shift ended, and I went home. The next morning I received an early morning phone call from the hotel staff announcing (even celebrating) that the bookkeeper had called the bank and the check was good. Word of my “risky” good deed had spread. When I went to work later that day I was gently chided by the General Manager for placing the hotel at risk, but the tone of his voice and the expression on his face told me something different – we had done the right thing.

Over the years since then, I have occasionally thought about that elderly gentleman, even allowing myself to muse as to whether or not he was one of those  “angels unaware” (Hebrews 13:2), visiting us and testing all of our hearts. Sometimes, kindness requires us to take a risk – one that others will deem “unwise” or “unnecessary” – and that includes our kindness toward those experiencing homelessness. Homelessness during the holidays can take many different forms. In the year 4BC, in the town of Bethlehem of Judea, during the reign of Augustus Caesar, it took the form of a homeless couple – a pregnant teenager and her partner – from Galilee who found themselves seeking refuge in a stable and dependent upon the kindness of strangers. In the simple description of the New Testament writer, Luke, Mary “gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” 

Looking past our Christmas celebrations and into the new year, I can’t help but feel that all of us are going to have our kindness, our compassion, and our unconditional love – in other words, our “hearts” – tested as never before in the face of a surging River of Homelessness – a flood-tide of human need. Take time now to rest, to celebrate, and above all, to be kind. You just don’t know who might be seeking refuge at your “Inn.”

A Snowy Silent Night Christmas
If you’ve ever wondered what kindness at Christmastime might look like for the unsheltered homeless of our City, here’s your chance to see it. I filmed this piece during Christmas of 2020 when I was filming my documentary The Least of These at the City Church warming shelter. It was snowing and we were doing Christmas outreach, distributing food and gifts to the street homeless of Spokane. I thought the juxtaposition of the traditional Christmas Hymn, “Silent Night,” with homeless outreach might help all of us see the homeless differently during the Christmas season. Take two-and-a-half minutes to challenge yourself with kindness this Christmas.

YouTube Link for “A Snowy Silent Night Christmas” –

Joyeux Noël
Maurice Smith

My Road Leads Home – Our Documentary YouTube Channel

A Place To Exist: The True and Untold Story of Camp Hope and Homelessness in Spokane

“How we see people is the beginning

of how we treat people.”


An accident of upbringing?

The Book of Revelation, the final book of the Christian Bible, has been the subject of study and speculation for centuries of believers. Revelation is the source of scores of cultural references, including The Beast666, the Antichrist, the Battle of Armageddon, the Apocalypse, and The Seven Seals. I encourage you to read, or at least skim, the Book in one of its paper versions or here online, where you can choose to read it in any one of more than sixty english language translations. (I recommend either the Revised Standard Version [1952] or the King James Version [1611].) A passing familiarity with the actual text of Revelation is an important basis for evaluating its many consequential modern-day spin-offs.

I first read the Book of Revelation as a teenager leading up to my confirmation as a full member of the Methodist Church. I read it from a standpoint of reverence for Biblical text, but I possessed only a sketchy grasp of the history of western civilization, of the process of assembling the Bible, and of the Christian church(s). As ill-prepared as I was by my lack of perspective, I was fascinated by the imagery and captivated by the idea that Revelation contained clues from which one could predict the future. After all, I was taught that the Bible was in some sense the Word of God for us to interpret. 

In the 1960s exactly what future was predicted by the words of Revelation was mostly the subject of elaborate, illustrated pamphlets affixed to doorknobs with rubber bands—and whispered insinuations that this or that public personage was, for example, “the Beast”. In my upbringing, Biblical verses and stories were read, taught, and discussed seriously, but the idea that every word in the Bible was the inerrant word of God and therefore requiring of explanation was a foreign concept. In that context I felt the allure of the looming and elaborate End Times predictions spun out of the Book of Revelation, but there remained a yawning gap between the actual words and the story certain preachers had been made of them.

Awareness of the Book of Revelation is important because it is the one book in the New Testament on which all Christian eschatology, the study and prediction of the End Times, is based—a study that features prominently in the minds of many Evangelical Christians of today. Take, for example, the immense popularity among Evangelical Christians of the Revelation-based “Left Behind” books and movies that popularized the idea of “The Rapture”. The author, Timothy LaHaye, was an American Baptist evangelical Christian minister based in San Diego. (For more detail see CMR’s Worldview.) Famed politico-religionist pastor Jerry Falwell Sr. said of the “Left Behind” series, “In terms of its impact on Christianity, it’s probably greater than that of any other book in modern times, outside the Bible.” Remember that nearly all of this is a spin-off from the words of the Book of Revelation.

I find it disturbing to realize that if, by a quirk of fate, I had been brought up on fundamentalist Biblical interpretation I might still be studying the Book of Revelation for clues to the future—or at least seriously following the fanciful interpretations of Revelation concocted by others. Instead, I consider adherence to Biblical fundamentalism a block to critical thinking and an open door to the acceptance of all manner of fringe interpretations. 

In September of 2022 (can that be just over a year ago?) General Michael Flynn’s and Clay Clark’s Christian Nationalist “Reawaken America Tour” attracted a crowd at the Stateline Speedway in Post Falls. Its poster featured many political personalities including Mike Lindell (the “MyPillow Guy”), “Pastor” Sean Feucht (who has appeared twice in Spokane, most recently with Nadine Woodward), Josh Hawley, Lindsey Graham (?), and Roger Stone, among a sea of others, some of whom I recognize but cannot name. (For more detail click Flynn’s Reawaken America Tour Comes to the Inland Northwest.)

In my efforts to understand and write about “Reawaken America” as came here to the Inland Northwest I must have disclosed my cell number. Since October I have received period texts from “Reawaken”. Following a link in one of these texts led me down a rathole where I fear I stood shoulder to shoulder with folks who shared my youthful fascination with Revelation, but never escaped from it—a sobering thought. 

The first way station in cesspool of misinformation and conspiracy theories was this link to the Reawaken America website itself. From there you can lose yourself (and your mind) in dramatic videos posted on Rumble, like “Mike Lindell | Lindell & Clay Clark Share Their 3-Year Journey Together On Quest to Save America from The Great Reset: Being De-Banked, Being Canceled By Media, Having Countless Venues & Vendors Cancel Them, Law-Fare & More”. (Not recommended unless you have an idle hour and quarter). But the link that really caught my eye was a six minute video that starts with the image of the Bible opened to the Book of Revelation Chapter 16 and a deep male voice reading verses 12-14. The caption reads: “Revelation 16: 12-14 | Did the Bible Prophesy That China & Russia Would Team Up & the False Prophet Would Show Up When the Euphrates River Dried Up? Understanding: Yuval Noah Harari, China & Russia, the Euphrates, AI & the Gilgamesh Projec”. Whoa! What? Each of those two videos claims to have “265K followers”, suggesting to the viewer than they are not alone in their fascination.

The Revelation video is a disturbingly far cry from the illustrated pamphlets hung on the doorknobs of my youth by various true believers. Rumble is a social media video hosting platform popular with the far right. Scanning the video titles reminds one of the headlines in the National Enquirer magazine—except that while you had to buy the Enquirer, Rumble is free to visit (presumably under expectation that the gullible visitor will be conned by the advertising). Moreover, the content on Rumble is presented as video—no need to spend any effort actually reading. It should surprise no one that Rumble’s cloud services business hosts Trump’s Truth Social.

Faith in Biblical inerrancy, a devotion that encompasses much of modern-day Evangelicalism, is fertile ground for the Sean Feuchts, Matt Sheas, Mike Lindells, Alex Joneses, and General Flynns to seed their cultish, religion-laced, End Times-inspired politics. The temptation is to think of these people as clever grifters deceiving the gullible for monetary and political gain. Sadly, it now seems to me more likely they believe the insanity they spread, buoyed in their confidence that they are divinely guided to their interpretations.

I present all of this as a window on a worrisome mindset that underpins the politics and religious beliefs of a significant share of modern-day Evangelical Christians, many of whom are otherwise delightful, well-meaning people, like my former neighbor (whose story I told here). Arm yourself with at least a passing familiarity with the actual words of the Book of Revelation—and marvel at the fantastic stories spun off from those words. If you wonder at the opinions expressed by some at your holiday tables, remember that some guests might be coming up from a Rumble video rathole for a bit of holiday cheer. Decline to argue. Ask questions, and listen to the answers in quiet amazement. 

Keep to the high ground,

McMorris Rodgers on Ukraine Funding

Her response: Drill, dig up, and burn more fossil fuels!

Last Thursday, December 14th, members of the U.S. House left for a three week holiday recess. Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops are running out of ammoand the U.S. Senate remains in overtime session. The Senate is trying to iron out a compromise to pass legislation to provide the desperately needed military aid. Why is this so hard, when there supposedly exists bipartisan support in both houses of the U.S. Congress to pass this funding? Republicans in Congress are holding the aid package hostage to an unrelated demand to return to the Trumpian version of border security. The demand is embodied in H.R.2, passed by the House on May 11, 2023. H.R.2’s first requirement is an immediate restart of border wall construction. H.R.2 passed with all but two Republican and zero Democratic votes. Of course, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-CD5, eastern Washington) voted Yea. H.R.2 never had a chance of passing the Senate, but it remains as the price House Republicans demand to authorize money for Ukrainian soldiers to continue to hold off Vladimir Putin’s territorial ambitions. The Republicans, including McMorris Rodgers, left for recess as the Ukrainian military fights on in the cold and dark. These Republicans celebrate the holiday in their warm homes with their families while Putin crows that the West is losing interest.

Last week, hopping mad, I messaged McMorris Rodgers over her and her House Republican compatriots’ complicity in this tragedy. A number of my readers did the same—and I imagine that those who did received the same email reply that I pasted below. It did nothing to assuage my anger and frustration. In fact, it made it worse. Not only does she claim to support Ukraine against Putin—but she switches topics to her sponsored bill, H.R. 6858, deceptively dubbed “The American Energy Independence from Russia Act”. She writes, “This is how we crush Putin’s war chest, restore our energy dominance, stand by Ukraine and our allies, and create jobs here at home.” Horse manure. H.R. 6858 is nothing more than a gift to her fossil fuel supporters and a nod to her climate denial and Dominianist theology. The only good news here is that McMorris Rodgers introduced H.R. 6858 a year and a half ago (02/28/2022) and it has gone nowhere. And this is her excuse for going out on recess while Ukrainians freeze as she claims to support them?

Keep to the high ground,



Thank you for contacting me about the the war in Ukraine. I appreciate you taking the time to reach out to my office.

I believe the United States has a responsibility to hold Vladimir Putin accountable for his unlawful invasion of Ukraine. The United States can and should do more to help the people of Ukraine in their fight with more sanctions, more security assistance, and more defense equipment.

We promised freedom-loving Ukrainians we would help them defend against aggression nearly 30 years ago when they voluntarily shut down their nuclear arsenal. Putin will not stop in Ukraine, so our commitment to freedom and self-determination cannot and should not waver. If America is not strong in this moment, we risk facing catastrophic consequences around the world.

I also understand the concerns about the amount of money Congress has authorized in support of Ukraine’s defense. I have always believed every penny of taxpayer money should be subject to the scrutiny of the American people, which is why I have – and will continue to – closely evaluate any legislation that sends money to Ukraine. Law recently enacted in May 2022 requires the Secretaries of State and Defense to report descriptions of U.S. security assistance provided to Ukraine on a monthly basis. These reports are traditionally delivered to the committees in the House and Senate that have jurisdiction over defense and foreign affairs issues. If you’re interested, you can read more about the assistance the U.S. has provided to Ukraine inthis report from the Congressional Research Service.  

As Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I am focused on the impact that the Biden administration’s energy policies are having on the conflict in Ukraine and geopolitical stability. For America to be a diplomatic power, we must be a military power. To be a military power, we must be an economic power. Energy is foundational to it all. It’s clearer now than ever what is at stake when a rush-to-green agenda and anti-American energy policies make the world more dependent on Russian oil and natural gas.

My goal is to flip the switch on American energy and bolster our energy security with my bill, the American Energy Independence from Russia Act (H.R. 6858). This is how we crush Putin’s war chest, restore our energy dominance, stand by Ukraine and our allies, and create jobs here at home.

Please know as your advocate in Congress, my top priority is to listen to you and lead on solutions you can count on. Please stay in touch. I send out a regular update that gives you an inside look at my week ahead. You can subscribe by clicking here


Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Member of Congress

They’re out stalking the malls in eastern Washington

Don’t let them fool you

Every statewide initiative you might be asked to sign before January 1st—as you scurry about doing your Christmas shopping (or your returns)—every one of them is a cynical attempt to breathe life into the state’s Republican Party for the 2024 election. Don’t be fooled. The initiative signature gathering is funded almost solely by one very rich man, Brian Heywood, who moved to the State of Washington from California in 2010 “to make money”. 

That these initiatives are being foisted upon us by paid signature gatherers is undisputed fact. Brian Heywood is nearly the sole contributor to Let’s Go Washington, a political committee which, as of yesterday, reported “Voter signature/petition gathering” expenditures of $5,441,115.35.

I first wrote of Mr. Heywood’s gambit in a post published November 29 entitled The Perversion of the Initiative Process (click to read). I was not convinced that the paid signature gatherers would make it to this side of the state, but on Monday I received reports from friends who had been approached in local shopping malls by signature gatherers presenting dubious information to encourage hurried passersby to sign. 

On November 30, the day after my post (probably coincidence), in Sue Lani Madsen’s opinion column published in the Spokesman, she tried to point the finger in the opposite direction. Ignoring (or ignorant of?) the millions of Brian Heywood’s dollars spent on signature gathering, Ms. Madsen insinuated, without evidence, that some imagined group associated with Democrats was paying “disruptors” [the bold is mine]: “The usual modus operandi is to send paid signature disruptors to make it unpleasant enough for customers that retail businesses ask signature-gatherers to leave.” Then came the insinuated connection, “…there was no response to repeated attempts to contact Shasti Conrad, chairman of the Washington state Democrats”. It’s a classic turn-around: try to paint the opposition as purely monetarily motivated, that is, lacking in sincerity. It’s the same game plan as Fox News’ and the Republican Party’s bogus BS about George Soros busing and paying protestors. 

Totally ignoring the decades-long, CPAC-lauded, Republican anti-tax ballot measures visited upon our ballot measure system by the now-disgraced Republican/Libertarian Tim Eyman, Ms. Madsen stretches to retrieve obscure examples of Democrats playing the same game. 

Then she comes up with this imagined zinger:

Democrats are probably not planning to send thank you notes to citizens for exercising their democratic right to petition their government. Or to congratulate businesses for allowing petitioners to gather on their property.

Of course, she fails to mention that the money and the spearhead behind the current bevy of initiatives is from Just. One. Wealthy. Man. 

Bottom line: Be on the alert for pesky signature gatherers—and pointedly Decline to Sign. According to Ms. Madsen one of the six measures is already over the top for signatures—which should surprise no one, I suppose, considering the documented money invested. We’ll learn of the final tally in January from Washington State’s Secretary of State. 

Keep the high ground,


P.S. Right on cue, the Washington Policy Center’s Republican blare machine lurched into action in the December 13 WPC reserved space on the Opinion page of the Spokesman Review. In his article Todd Myers, employed by the WPC, drummed on idea that Governor Inslee’s climate efforts have egregiously driven up the price of gas, the subject of Initiative 2117, the Heywood initiative that Ms. Madsen claims has gathered sufficient signatures to get it on the 2024 ballot. Mr. Myers provided a blur of numbers, but the real thrust of his piece was an accusation that Governor Inslee lied—playing on anger as the most effective means of riling one’s followers. Expect a lot more of this sort of thing—and understand it for what it is.