Giving thanks for the Observer's readers
PDC rules for anti-Sawant PAC; Shewmake challenges Ericksen in the 42nd
Today we’re profoundly grateful to you, the Observer’s brainy, clued-in readers. Since we launched this experiment in independent journalism more than a year ago, you’ve dropped us tips, caught our typos, pointed out angles we missed, complained when we leave out the cute dog picture, and even called us out on the dreaded comma splice.1
And yes, we inadvertently left the dog picture off yesterday. Here’s some bonus Arya:
More importantly, you’ve given the Observer your time as readers and your cash as subscribers. (The Woman Who Lets Us Live With Her, who is Queen of the Money around here, is particularly grateful for the latter.) Because of you, the Observer is a viable, growing enterprise that will continue digging in on politics, government, and the influence thereof into the future. Tell all the news junkies you know and love about us.
Most journalism business models are predicated on the idea of building the largest audience possible, often at a drastic loss, so that audience can be sold to advertisers for maximum profit. From the bland, bloated daily newspapers that dominated journalism until the turn of the 21st century to the terrifying clickbait factory that is Facebook today, the lessons of that strategy are clear: Journalism suffers and readers become the product instead of the customer. We’re trying to be the opposite of that. We’ll take all the readers who care enough to really read and pony up some of their hard-earned dollars; the others can stick with the cat videos.
There’s no better example of that problem than Thanksgiving weekend, which contains both some of the slowest news days of the year and some of the biggest advertising days. If you got a hard-copy newspaper today, chances are it’s the thickest and heaviest you’ll get this year, because the amount of advertising sold dictates the size of the paper. You can imagine the gerbil-wheel operations that fill all those column inches with things mostly written without effort and read without pleasure.2 Ditto the cacophony of advertising and “content” that is no doubt congesting your online world today.
That’s why we’re going to leave you with two quick news items and then peace out for the long weekend. The Sunday Observer’s taking the weekend off. We’ll get some people together with whom we haven’t broken bread in way too long. We’ll try to keep the omnivores from killing the vegans and vice versa. We’ll eat and drink too much and then work out obsessively to atone. We’ll get outside on Friday and shop local on Saturday. We’ll watch too much football and have pie for breakfast until the pie runs out. We suggest you do the same. A Happy Thanksgiving to all. Now here’s a little news before we go:
PDC sides with anti-Sawant PAC on contribution limits
The Public Disclosure Commission agreed on Wednesday to let A Better Seattle, a political action committee pushing for the recall of socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, raise unlimited campaign contributions.
The committee successfully argued that it was an independent expenditure committee separate from the recall campaign itself. Such committees are exempt from the $1,000 limit.
A Better Seattle, which is bankrolled by a who’s-who of the Seattle establishment, said it would not accept contributions of greater than $5,000. The PAC had raised about $123,000 in its first month under the $1,000 limit. If you live in Seattle’s third district, expect some more incoming mail.
Meanwhile, the campaign defending Sawant busted out some Bernie Sanders on the homepage of The Seattle Times yesterday, which must have irked the editorial board:
Ballots are due Dec. 7, after which we’ll find out how this latest chapter of the establishment’s ongoing bid to purge the left from City Hall turns out.
Shewmake challenges Erickson in Whatcom County’s 42nd
Various news orgs up in Whatcom County had this news earlier in the week, but we wanted to highlight a potential showdown between progressive Rep. Sharon Shewmake and incumbent Sen. Doug Ericksen, one of the Legislature’s most conservative and controversy-courting members.
The 42nd District which includes a slice of Bellingham and a broad swath of the rural part of the county, used to be reliably Republican until Shewmake, a Western Washington University economics professor, beat an incumbent in 2018. Ericksen, who was co-chair of Donald Trump’s campaign here in 2016, barely held onto his seat in ‘18, winning by just 46 votes.
We said “potential showdown” above because it’s not clear he’ll run again. Ericksen’s made a lot of weird news in recent years, ranging from a bizarre contracting arrangement with the Cambodian government to contracting COVID recently in El Salvador.
If he stays in, expect a proxy fight on climate change and the environment. The district includes two of the state’s five oil refineries. Ericksen was long a hard obstacle to Gov. Jay Inslee and his environmentalist allies because of those many hundreds of jobs. Two extremely expensive attempts to oust him fell short.
Shewmake, meanshile, has walked a potentially dangerous political path in that area, proposing a massive carbon tax on her hometown industry and finessing a problematic vote on a low-carbon fuel standard. But the district has shifted left in recent years as Bellingham grows, and one of the oil companies that operate the district’s refineries embraced Inslee’s climate change legislation last year.
Shewmake shrugged off a well-funded challenger in 2020. It’s also not clear what the deeply muddied redistricting process will produce in the way of new lines. Even if Erickson’s out, this is still one to watch.
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And now, some more Arya
Sadly, the comma is right next to the semicolon on the keyboard; the robot copy editors really let us down on that one.
All props to Dr. Samuel Johnson, who reportedly dropped this foundational piece of shade sometime in the late 1700s: "What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." Twitter must have the good doctor red-lining the grave-spinning tach.