Sunday, December 21, 2014

Voting Rights Act in Yakima, Part III: An Inclusive Compromise


This is the third installment regarding a recent federal court ruling finding the City of Yakima’s elections in violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). I write about how the City is offering a compromise remedy that better serves Latinos, if not all voters.

Soon after the summary ruling finding Yakima in violation of Sec. 2 of the VRA, political and opinion leaders suggested the City not appeal. Governor Jay Inslee wrote a letter to the city council saying, “I want to respectfully request that the Council send a clear message by voting to not appeal the Court’s decision and instead focus on implementing a plan to address this serious issue.” The Seattle Times editorial board wrote, that, “Yakima should abandon any notion of a costly appeal.” And guess what? Yakima did not appeal. It did however, offer a compromise that allows it to stand by its argument regarding representation for all of the city’s Latino voters — and not only those who are drawn into exclusive districts.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Voting Rights Act in Yakima, Part II: Options for the City & All ItsVoters


by Krist Novoselić

A federal court has ruled that Yakima’s elections are in violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Some may think that the City’s only options are to accept seven individual districts or appeal the ruling. This assumption is untrue as Yakima has more alternatives available than ceding to a district plan or wading forward with more litigation. A simple change to the voting rules can have Yakima keep at-large elections, while at the same time remedy issues of voter dilution.

Exclusive districts are not a solution mandated by the VRA. Making these so-called majority-minority districts is a decision by the parties in the lawsuit. Judge Rice’s ruling may have called on the City to submit a district plan, notwithstanding, legal precedence allows the defendant jurisdiction the choice of election systems as long its proposal actually does remedy the vote dilution. In other words — Yakima can choose to implement voting rules other than majority-minority districts.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Voting Rights Act in Yakima, Part I: Racially Polarized Voting


By Krist Novoselić

 On August 22, United States District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice ruled that the City Of Yakima’s voting system was in violation of the Voting Rights Act. The ruling identifies the city’s at-large voting system as the culprit for racially polarized voting. In the next installment about this issue, I will argue that the problem is winner-take-all rules and not at-large arrangements. Yakima can use this ruling to move beyond districts towards a truly inclusive voting system for all its voters. Until then, let us look at a recent instance of racially polarized voting in Yakima County.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Standing With Eddie Vedder and the Real Possibility of Peace

Palestinian / Israeli Separation Wall
Thank you Eddie Vedder for speaking up for peace in our world. Eddie has gotten some criticism over comments he made about the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis. That situation has been messed up for so long, it is no wonder that even mentioning it is toxic. Let’s face it, the relationship between the Palestinians and the Israelis is a disaster! I don’t know how many times I have heard the same explanations and excuses and it matters not, there is a continuing catastrophe between those two peoples.

Our world is connected as never before. People from all corners of the planet share culture and commerce at the click of a mouse. In contrast to this great convergence of humanity, Israel is building tall concrete walls while Palestinians fire rockets over them. There's a shared recent history between these people, and I think there could be a shared future that's more in tune with what's going on with our ever-connected universe.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Youth Vote: A Cheap Date

Nate Cohn writes this article in the April, 28 NYT’s Why the Democrats’ Turnout Problem Is Worst in NorthCarolina. The issue for Democrats is that young voters tend to sit out midterm elections. Sen. Kay Hagan is up for reelection this year and this situation is bad news for her. Hagan’s margin of victory in 2008 came from voters under the age of 30 — a voting bloc that gave her 71 percent of their vote that year. The Obama-mania of 2008 responsible for this turnout is long gone. Cohn makes this point and how it will be tough for Hagan to achieve these numbers with the youth vote this year.

Hagan is a Democrat, and like the GOP, these "state parties" are basically soft money conduits around individual campaign contribution limits. A party is supposed to be a group of likeminded people who pull others into the arena of elections. Instead, the two state parties cling to voting rules that push people away. And they use social media in accordance with their top-down group structures. It is an exclusive system that never follows up when constituencies like youth show up to vote.

Democrats have been doing this for too long. I recall the 1992 election with the big Rock The Vote effort that helped elect the Clinton / Gore ticket. There was a huge youth turnout and all the Democrats could do for this constituency was the Motor Voter Bill. My point is that there was no real effort to keep these voters engaged. The 1992 and 2010 midterms had a similar dynamic and, by what Cohn is reporting, we’re set to see it gain in 2014.

I am not a youth voter. I want a democracy for all ages. Part of making this happen is a willingness to abandon the two state parties for new forms of association. This is why I am interested in using new political social networking platforms. I want to associate with people who want to engage elections with new tools to challenge the current broken paradigm. This means advocating reforms and running candidates outside of the state party structure in 2014 and 2016. 

With the right tool, we can build a democracy for the ages.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Punk Rock Gender Parity

Backstage Life
I am so happy about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame event and how it went so well. Earlier that week there were three long days of rehearsals in NYC. I feel we conjured the spirit of the band, and we could not have done that alone. This, for me, is a bittersweet notion as we all miss Kurt so much. But considering we were inducted, the show had to go on. Joan Jett was first on my list to be out front. I spoke to Dave about it and he ran with the idea of having all women lead. We felt that would be a good tribute to Kurt and what Nirvana was about. 

It was a good balance of females as Joan Jett and Kim Gordon are matriarchs of Punk Rock, while St. Vincent and Lorde represent the powerful up-and-coming women in Rock. Every one of these performances nailed a Nirvana tune in their own way. Joan - Smells Like Teem Spirit, Kim - Aneurism, St. Vincent - Lithium and Lorde - All Apologies. I had fun on the last song because I got to play accordion and all of our guests were on stage for a gala closing! Our set will be broadcast in high quality television in May so check it out.

We also did a club gig afterward that was a lot of fun. I will have more on that soon but thank you to J Mascis and John McCauley for your great contributions!!!!

Our "all female" Hall of Fame set also had me thinking about the political realm (Imagine that!) At FairVote we have done a report regarding the state of women's representation. I will have more to say about this, especially how at-large districts tend to put more women in office, at another time. Until then, enjoy this short and engaging video about the study narrated by Marie Wilson.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Leave it to those Millennials!

Millennial Makeover in Pennsylvania’s 10th district.
Nick Troiano today announced his independent campaign for US House in Pennsylvania’s 10th district. I find his campaign intriguing for many reasons. First off, he is a Millennial and if you’ve ever read the book Millennial Makeover, there is a good theory about how this generation will make waves when it comes of age. Read my review of this book here and the following is an excerpt.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Let's Talk About Love


Carl Wilson has released a new edition of his book Let’s Talk About Love – Why other people have such bad taste. I, among others, contribute an essay to this edition. I was reading my contribution and want to expand on a point. I believe that one of the ways that Nirvana was successful is how Kurt Cobain connected with so many people on a personal level. I get approached so many times by people of all ages about how Nirvana changed their life. This is about countless individuals who are all on their own trip so I can’t expand on it except that it is very real.

I really like this book. Wilson is not a hipster music snob; you know, one those subversive types who in actuality are not subversive but cliché. If I sound judgmental about so-called hipsters, Wilson writes about judgments and comes out on the side of the notion of humanity. This book is not about scenesters or even Celine Dion – it’s about the connection between music and our humanity.

You’d think Wilson, who has served in the trenches of alternative news weekly writing, would come out gunning for Dion. Instead, he takes on the notion of subversion as an image or identity. He’s not a hater and in the process of trying to figure out why anybody in the world would listen to Dion, he becomes sympathetic to the singer and her league of followers.

Wilson knows his Indy rock. He's a believer, however, his apostasy is not about enchantment with a global pop singer. I’m not sure he even likes Dion’s music but he has utilized the phenomenon of her celebrity to make a point. He examines Dion’s appeal with the rigor of an academic, but this is not Social Psychology treatise. It is indeed a journey to the end of taste; reverse engineering of how certain music interacts with the individual in society. 

Read this book!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Commerce at the Heart Of Cross-Cultural Exchange


The wheels of commerce have been turning since humans started agriculture and by 500 CE trade was at the center of the networks connecting humanity across large geographic areas. Free enterprise continued to dominate, acting as the hand lifting the curtain for the dawning of true globalization at the turn of the 15th Century. The companion on commerce’s journey was organized spiritual beliefs that functioned as ethical codes. This duo traveled far and wide as the catalyst of cross-cultural interaction.

A Classic Look

Health and Strength
Darka helped me put this look together that I wore for the Grammys. She made the vest, pants and the tie. I had bought the Stetson hat on the internet. We were trying on clothes and found this image in a book about mens fashion. Darka ran out to her studio and made me this tie out of silk that she cut on the bias. The knot is tied like a regular bow tie, but you arrange it differently for that old look.

So there you have the inspiration or this look.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

FairVote Event at Impact Hub




I want to invite you to our forum next week, in which I will talk about "How to kill the gerrymander and empower the voter with fair representation" on Tuesday, February 4th, at Impact Hub in Seattle. We'll discuss the roots of our political dysfunction and a realistic reform roadmap (outlined here) to make every voter count in elections for Congress and the Washington State legislature.
To join us, click on the link below -- and please invite your friends!

What: Discussion on electoral reform at every level of government

When: Tuesday, February 4th, 4 pm - 5:30 pm

Where: Impact Hub  220 Second Ave S. Seattle, WA

We're anticipating a great discussion and I hope you can join us.

Thanks!

Krist Novoselic — Board Chair FairVote






     

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