Posts Tagged ‘Vote!

12
Oct
10

R-52uesday! Saving Scrilla!

Last week I left ya’ll with the notion that turning saved energy into saved money, is perhaps an equally important outcome of the bad-ass-future-saving Referendum 52. Indeed for Aberdeen School District’s business manager, Tom Laufmann, saving cash through R-52 is his primary interest:

Philosophically, we should say it’s better for the planet.. But it’s about the money. We’re so short on money anyway, we don’t want to pay any more on utility bills than we have to.

Although we may be passionate going green, we always gotta remember the other green; keep the wise words of the Wu in mind (CREAM). This week I wanted to share some stories where energy-retrofits, just like the ones that will come with R-52, have helped schools save some dolla dolla bills, while cleaning up the environment at the same time.

Kiona-Benton School District

The district was not even thinking about energy retrofits until they spotted energy efficiency grants being dished out by the state. This inspired them to hire a company called Quantum to give their K-8 building the once-over. Quantum laid out what would be the most cost effective, and the state  bit into their suggestions like the juicy locally grown apple you gave your kindergarten teacher. Lighting, heating, and cooling systems were updated to be more modern and energy efficient. The cost? $380,000 total. This is important, because this sort of money is virtually impossible for local school districts to get their hands on (the district paid $150,000 in this case), which is why we need the force and funding of R52 to make it happen. We need not worry about R52 emptying the state’s wallet either, because repairing school buildings is expected to save the state $610,000 in new construction costs over 8 years, or more than $75,000/year on average. But back to the local – the Kiona-Benton school district will now be saving $20,000 annually, from repairing just one school building.

Burlington-Edison School District

In 2002 the district retrofitted lighting, water and ventilation systems at two schools and the district office building. The project cost $323,000, $278 thousand of which was paid by the district. Now the district is saving an estimated $35,500 each year. They’ll be counting stacks beyond their costs in only 8 years. And wait.. I think that means we’re using less energy too. Gettin’ paid to save the world… sounds kind of like working for the Bus.

Aberdeen School District

What about our buddy Mr. Laufman? How did he fare in his sustainable quest for cash-money? Well, retrofitting a school heater alone saves about $30,000 every freakin’ year. They also decided to switch out to more efficient lighting in the school gym. We are still waiting on numbers for energy savings, but students and faculty are already diggin it.

——

You don't even want to know what I can do with a trowel.

There you have it. Schools are already making it happen. Imagine what they could do with R-52 in place! Thanks for joining me for another Bustastic R-52uesday. I love having you all ❤

Shout out to the Sightline Institute for hooking up so much good info on the Referendum 52. The Bus will drive over soon for a many-handed-high-five. For those who haven’t checked them out yet, clickity clickity.

See the previous posts on R-52: Introduction, Kids Getting Smarter, Saving the Future

08
Oct
10

The Hunger. The bizarre hunger.

Halloween is approaching, meaning so is the good news: Trick or Vote.  It also means we must take a moment and savor the this music video which includes the best Anubis cameo I can possibly imagine.  Too sincere to be a spoof, too terrible to not be featured below:

Thanks to the Trick or Treats series on Consequence of Sound.  Similar to our Trick or Votes series going on everyday.

06
Oct
10

Luchador? Robin Hood? Definitely a Hero.

 

 

They don't just give those belts away

 

When the general election ballots make it to your door, you will find the usual alphabet soup (do they make numeric soup?) of ballot measures. It can definitely get confusing, and those little blurbs on the actual ballot are usually just enough to remind you that you don’t know what the heck it’s all about. Ten ninety who? R fifty cent? Never fear, the Bus has got wheels so we’ve got a head start towards the whole initiative circus, and its looking much clearer now. We’ve already given a nod, a nudge and a wink to Referendum 52, one of this year’s ballot heroes. Now meet its best friend, the awe-inspiring Initiative 1098, who is here to save Washington’s future in a big big way.

I-1098 will set up a trust fund for education (BOOM), health care (BAM), and middle class tax relief (KAPOW), a true investment in the future of Washington. And the investment is substantial – over $2 billion is expected to be accrued to the fund every year. Our state education system would be seeing an extra billion dollars every year, health care would benefit from roughly a half-billion, and the remaining would allow for tax relief for property owners and nearly 90% of businesses. These aren’t numbers I pulled out of a hat (that was indeed a rabbit); local experts such as the Economic Opportunity Institute, Sightline Institute, Our American Generation, and the Washington State Budget and Policy Center have all done their homework. Follow each link to see what those folks have got to say about 1098; the Economic Opportunity Institute in particular is on their shizznat. You can also check out the measure with your own spectacles here.

The “Education, Health Care, and Middle Class Tax Relief Fund” will get its cash flow from a modest-income tax on the wealthiest 1.2% of Washingtonians. Individuals will still have zilch income tax until they make at least $200,000/year, or $400,000 for couples filing jointly. The income tax will be a marginal tax rate set at 5%, which means only income above and beyond that mark is taxed (so if you make $200,001 in a year, your annual income tax will add up to a whopping one nickel). The marginal rate increases to 9% for incomes above $500,000/year, or $1 million for couples. Predictably, this concept of creating a new tax has sparked quite a bit of debate around the fairness of this measure (someone should hide those barrels of tea at the port). However, the idea that 1098 will hurt entrepreneurship or punish rich people is way-dumbed-down way of looking at it. 1098 is about fixing an unfair tax system, not piling on the taxes. Not to mention Washington State is currently ranked dead last in tax fairness in the whole country. Continue reading ‘Luchador? Robin Hood? Definitely a Hero.’

05
Oct
10

R-52uesday! Rescuing the Future!

 

R-52 enjoying a day in nature. Still in pose.

 

Last time I rapped at ya, I mentioned that Referendum 52 is all different sorts of awesome for our student’s learning environment.  Well, it turns out it is equally awesome for Washington’s natural environment – predominately by reducing energy use. When we pass R-52, hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians will be gainfully employed to retrofit our state’s public schools. This means: new-fangled lighting, appliances, water-fixtures in schools, perpetually requiring less energy than their rusty old predecessors. Energy efficiency also stands to be improved simply from modernizing air circulation and insulation within our schools, 45% of which haven’t been updated since 1969.

Saving energy is a direct benefit to the environment at large because 17% our electricity in Washington is produced by our one remaining coal plant in Centralia. Factoring the potential energy savings from R-52 into the reality of coal production, we will be reducing our State’s CO2 output the equivalent of taking 130,000 cars off the road (meanwhile reducing other nasty byproducts of coal plants as well). The referendum explicitly prioritizes projects with the highest projected energy savings over the following 10 years.

For a more localized picture, we can also look to health benefits within our own urban/suburban environments. For the same reasons we will see students learning easier, retrofitting schools also improves the condition of the school-environment. Studies have repeatedly shown that energy efficient schools reduce the incidence of the flu and asthma attacks. This is a direct environmental benefit for Washington’s young folks and teachers.

One could also judge the benefit of reducing energy-related pollution by the reduction of energy costs to our schools. For some taking this monetary outlook is a necessity. Aberdeen School District’s business manager, Tom Laufmann, admits that counting bills is most important to him:

Philosophically, we should say it’s better for the planet.. But it’s about the money. We’re so short on money anyway, we don’t want to pay any more on utility bills than we have to.

Although we may be passionate about the importance of environmental improvements, Laufmann’s outlook is still effective for saving energy.  It’s always great when economic and environmental benefits go hand in hand.  Every dollar saved on energy via retrofits translates to less energy use and a cleaner environment. Tune in next week to hear stories from the Evergreen state where schools are already saving cash and saving the future at the same time.

See the other posts on R-52: Introduction, Kids Getting Smarter, Saving Scrilla

04
Oct
10

The end is near… of the voter registration period

time bomb - vote bomb

Holy moly. Today’s the last day to register to vote in this actually sunny (for the moment) state of ours!!  New address? Just turned 18? Been living amongst woodland creatures for your adult life? Register in a few tics right here.

And it is all vote by mail so you there’s no need to bathe before heading to the polls (that’s for you, woods-dwellers).  As a reward for registering, we offer an invite to the best Halloween party on the planet: Trick or Vote.  Also, we offer this video of Donna Summer lamenting the final day of the voter registration period:

28
Sep
10

R-52uesday – Kids Need Oxygen?!?

Hello Bus People! Welcome to R-52uesday, the Bus’ new weekly column on our valiant hero, Referendum 52.

 

 

I love R-52sday! I don't even wrestle on Tuesdays anymore

 

Last week in my intro to R52, I mentioned that if this ish passed, kids in Washington are going to become smarter. When I first read that claim elsewhere I took it with a big ol’ boulder of salt (kosher variety). I assumed it was the kind of unwarranted promise we often get out of politicians, like when Dubya told us we could lower taxes and still give our grandparents lots of free drugs. Or better yet, in this past election season when a recently popularized Mike McGinn was telling us that a tunnel solution would be like frolicking in a field of daisies. To be true to my discerning Bus generation, I looked into the claim.

It turns out its not just politicos telling us that R52 is a force for good. The claim that repairs for energy efficiency lead to increased student performance is supported by more studies than cups of coffee I’ve had today (I wish that comparison wasn’t worth so much). Trusting in that thing we call “the scientific method”, lets assume for a moment that Washington students will benefit just like kids from places as wide and far Chicago, DC, Florida, and Canada where similar measures have been implemented. Perhaps the most interesting study I found was a 2002 paper by Mark Schneider titled “Do School Facilities Affect Academic Outcomes?”, and that paper alone has a whole stack of references to back it up (this explains all the coffee). The answer was a resounding YES.  Check out a bit of what the study concludes:

School facilities affect learning. Spatial configurations, noise, heat, cold, light, and air quality obviously bear on students’ and teachers’ ability to perform…But we already know what is needed: clean air, good light, and a quiet, comfortable, and safe learning environment…It simply requires adequate funding and competent design, construction, and maintenance.

One reason R52 is so prime for our support is that it should be absolutely the least contentious route to improving the quality of education in Washington. This is not about what we teach; we need not decide whether math or music is more important. We don’t need to create convoluted and often misdirected incentive schemes for our teachers. We don’t need to obsess over what style of standardized test is going to kick kids into gear. The solution R52 offers is beautifully simple: let the kids breathe. When classrooms are full of clean and oxygen-rich air, young brains will eat it up and stay awake and alert.

Classrooms with poor air circulation (what we have now) allow a buildup of the CO2 that we exhale, which can straight knock kids out (maybe it wasn’t the sound of your teacher’s voice). Washington is in desperate need for such a breath of fresh air; high school drop out rates hover around 20%, which I think we can all agree is lousy. More to the point, over 45% of Washington State’s school spaces were built or last remodeled prior to 1969 so we REALLY need this freshness.  When we pass Referendum 52 it will quietly work its magic and leave us with classrooms worth learning in.

So how do we get this thing passed?!?

  1. CALL SOME PEEPS and tell the whole city that R52 is Washington’s hero waiting to strike. The campaign to Approve R52 holds phonebanks every TUESDAY from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at the Washington Environmental Council office (1402 3rd Ave, #1400). Sign up here.
  2. Watch this VIDEO of our WA Bus homie, Isaiah, speaking about the need for healthy schools in Washington.
  3. Tune in to R52sday every week until the election.

See the other posts on R-52: Introduction, Saving the Future, Saving Scrilla

05
Aug
10

The Progressive Voter’s Guide Guide

lay-zhurrrs

Question: what is the most diabolical piece of new technology to hit the streets in the last week? Frikkin’ sharks with frikkin’ laserbeams on their heads? Good guess, but no. Indeed, it is the Progressive Voters’ Guide.

Hwa!? A Voter’s Guide for progressives? To tell them what candidates are progressive, hardworking legislators? Or would be progressive, hardworking legislators? This is madness. Madness! Only progressives could be this diabolical.

…right. Uh, so, anyway, we here at the Bus are big fans of this Guide and we want to make sure you can use it as you fill out your primary election ballot (and put in the mailbox by no later than Tuesday, August 17). The Guide is hella easy to use, but we want to make it even more user friendly so that you can do your ballot up like “whoa that was hella fast.” So: the Progressive Voter’s Guide Guide starts after the jump.

Front page- click to expand

Continue reading ‘The Progressive Voter’s Guide Guide’