Scarves, Mittens, Hats

One memory of my childhood that has resurfaced as I reacquaint myself with Minnesota winters is of a bin full of winter wears. This contained any winter accessory you could desire–scarves, mittens, hats, gloves, neck warmers, even thick socks. When it was time to bundle up for a romp in the snow, we raided the bin. It was in this way that a single glove whose partner had long since disappeared could linger in our home for years, at the bottom of the bin, only to be used in desperation, when there were no matching gloves that fit. It was a way of holding onto memories, in a way. Plunge your hands into the bottom of the bin and pull out the gloves you wore when someone ran into a fence with the toboggan and split his lip, or the hat from the winter your neighbor plowed the entire neighborhood and dumped all the extra snow in massive piles in the empty lot.

I have been amassing winter clothes. It is cold as tits here–a bad simile, but fun to say. It snowed hard in October and then it felt like a complete month where the temperature never broke 30, and dipped into the low teens. And I know it gets even worse in January. My nose has been mildly bleeding for 6 weeks, because it’s so dry; and my phone battery is shot, because it was not designed for use in these temperatures.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a coat and snow pants for skiing. Also, so I can once again rollick in the snow. I finally have proper winter boots. I had been muddling through with thick socks–which is a pretty good way to do it.

I have to think about ice almost every time I set foot outside. I have not fallen yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

Right now, I have no organizing principle around my growing pile of heavy scarves, hats, and gloves, so they are just kind of overflowing in the front closet or the desk chair, where I plop things I don’t have a plan for.

I don’t like holding on to things. I have few tchotchkes. My best possessions are my clothes, books, and, more recently, my sewing machines. Those are what I care about, and those are what take up the most space.

I need a bin though. A tub where all things winter can live for easy access in the cold months, that can be tidily put away when it warms up again. I need a spot where partnerless gloves can cling to me for too many years, and remind me of yesteryear, of the cold, of the magical, confounded snow.

My Chili

This isn’t a food blog.

BUT…

I think people get chili wrong often, and I think my chili is above average, and I’m going to share the secrets I learned from my mother that make it so good.

First some facts: if you’re from Texas, you will want to refer to this recipe as bean stew. I am not from Texas, so, to me, chili is any soup that is bean and tomato based and seasoned with chili powder. The meat is totally negotiable, which I fully understand is sacrilege to the Texans in my life. This particular recipe is vegetarian (vegan if you wish), but the secret ingredients are applicable to meat chili as well.

Second, some opinions: soups and stews are not exact sciences. It is ok to approximate, make substitutions, etc. I like following a recipe when I don’t know what I’m doing or for a technically challenging dish, but soups are usually easy for me to get a handle on, and I can manage proportions from memory and feel. This intuitive approach comes from cooking for most of my life and following a lot of recipes first. What I’m saying is, my approach to cooking is not for beginners, because I’m not breaking down the basics. If you basically know how to make chili already, do that and add my secret ingredients. I think you’ll like it better. As general soup wisdom goes, the longer it cooks, the better it tastes (with rare exception), and alcohol makes everything taste better. Wine, beer, vodka, rum, brandy. Take your pick.

Ok, if you aren’t just rolling your eyes about this interminable description and scrolling through to the recipe, here’s the deepest secret that nobody knows. Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud of the tree called life–well, at least, here’s the secret my mother taught me: use mustard, brown sugar, and chocolate (not enough chocolate for it to be considered mole–I’ve done that and I’m over it now). They all cut the acidity of the tomatoes and add layers to the flavor. The chocolate also deepens the color and creates a more stew-like texture. Plus, mustard and chocolate are binding agents, so your fat won’t separate.

Ah, at last. The recipe. What you came here for. What you skipped the description for.

Claire’s Chili

2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium-large onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 C (2-3) carrots, finely chopped
1-3 jalapenos, finely chopped (this directly impacts how spicy your chili is, so know your audience)
5 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbs cumin
3-4 Tbs chili powder
salt and pepper to taste (beans are like black holes for salt, in my experience, and I always use more than I think I ought to)
1 cup barley
1 large can San Marzano tomatoes
2 – 15 oz cans kidney beans
2 – 15 oz cans black beans
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
1-2 Tbs Dijon mustard
1-2 Tbs powdered or baking chocolate (I literally put a fancy truffle in my last pot, because it was the only chocolate I had on hand)
3 Tbs brown sugar
2 shots of tequila

(Top with grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro)

  1. Heat olive oil in large pot at medium high heat. Add onion, carrot, jalapeno, and garlic. Saute.
  2. Add cumin and chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients. Break up tomatoes with a spatula. Bring to a boil while stirring regularly. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour or until the barley is fully cooked (a tender but still springy texture). The longer you cook it, the better it will taste, so keep simmering as time allows, and add more water or stock if needed.
  4. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and cilantro as desired.
  5. (you can do all of this in an instant pot as well, and set to pressure cook for 30 minutes. I have yet to do this so it doesn’t shut off because its thinks it’s burning, but you should try it and see. Maybe an extra cup or two of stock would help).
  6. (If you want to use meat, simply add your pound or so of preferred meat after the veggies and before the spices. You’ll want to brown it for texture and flavor. You can skip the barley too).
  7. Serves a goodly number of people, like probably 6-9.

Hipster Baby Names that are Also Cities in Minnesota

Finding that perfect name for your baby takes some effort. You take into consideration family names, fictional characters you’ve loved since childhood, even geography, religion, whichever names your friends haven’t used yet. And of course you have to consider what sounds good and expresses the unique relationship that created your bundle of joy. You are unique and so is your baby. You remember the days of too many Samanthas, Katies, and Jessicas in every class, when every 6th boy was named Josh, and you know we must forsake such practices so that your child knows from day one who they are.

Well, Minnesota has a solution for you. I give you the top Hipster Baby Names that are Also Cities in Minnesota, ranked:

  1. Chaska
    She wants none of your shit today. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants, and she’s not afraid to tell you that carrots are gross and mommy looks tired.
  2. Edina
    Sweetness incarnate. Everyone she ever meets will ask her where she’s from, and most won’t believe the answer.
  3. Anoka
    Anoka knows how to get woke-a.
  4. Afton
    Sweet summer child, wind, and wisp, Afton is a poet, a sensitive soul, who probably won’t publish anything but will spend their free time at local poetry workshops working on purple prose. Afton will use words like “stentorious” and “arbitrarily” incorrectly at the age of six.
  5. Eagan
    This baby is definitely wearing a bespoke onesie by six months.
  6. Blaine
    It’s almost Blake and almost Blaire but it isn’t quite either. Rest assured, your child will constantly smell like vanilla and the tears of the innocent.
  7. Duluth
    Boy or Girl, Duluth will love jumping in a pile of leaves in the fall and reading books on economic theory by flashlight in the closet.
  8. Albert Lea
    It’s almost a normal name, but those three extra letters are a real curveball, as will be your little slugger.
  9. Eveleth
    Not your grandma’s first name. But it could be, and that’s the point.
  10. Minneapolis
    Minne, for short, will have an ongoing complex about being named after a major city, but somebody’s got to break the ice. This complex will eventually lead to them going by their middle name or embracing Wicca.
  11. Hinkley
    Hinkley will always have a sophisticated rustic charm, leading to the establishment of the American version of a British, dying aristocracy. Hinkley will skip the glory days and go straight to defending the antiquated ways of wealthy country folk who have been on the land for generations.
  12. Hastings
    Typically a family name, young Hastings Phillips will often confuse his teachers as they attempt to call him Phil Hastings. Nonetheless, his name will always have a nice ring to it, dignified, said quickly, but never rushed.
  13. Hibbing
    Hibbing was born a child of the earth, and never gets over wearing overalls.
  14. Owatonna
    On second thought, Owatonna was an actual Sioux princess, so don’t name your child after her unless you are really, verifiably Sioux or someone who is Sioux has naming rights to your first born.
  15. Minnetonka
    Minnetonka means “great water,” so expect to change more than the usual number of diapers.

Honorable mentions that are a) actually people names or b) should be people names:

  1. Winona
  2. Bethel
  3. Mora
  4. Bemidji
  5. Cloquet
  6. Chanhassen
  7. Isanti
  8. Saint Paul (pronounced: sin pl)
  9. Zumbrota
  10. Welch (pronounce with a hard ch)
  11. Hopkins
  12. Mankato
  13. Mazeppa
  14. Eyota
  15. Walbo/Dalbo

Names that will make you child sound like a member of the British Aristocracy, but ironically. Every one of these kids has a pair of suspenders and no fewer than 4 tweed jackets by 12 months. You, as their parents, are obligated to end or begin your sentences with “my dear boy” when speaking to them, regardless of gender:

  1. Rochester
  2. Lanesboro
  3. Ostrander
  4. Brainerd
  5. Bloomington
  6. Woodbury
  7. Hazelton
  8. Winsted
  9. Blakeley
  10. Vermillion
  11. Lewiston
  12. Rushford
  13. Andover
  14. Brunswick
  15. Monticello

 

Next week: A list of hipster baby names that are also lakes in Minnesota.

Eat The Rich

I’ve been saying this a lot lately and kind of hoping someone will get bothered or curious about it, but no one has, so I am going to gratuitously explain why I think it’s important that we all make “eat the rich” our own mantra.

First of all, why eat the rich? They don’t taste very good. They are usually past their prime and pumped full of preservatives and chemicals. Plus there’s the tangential concern that cannibalism is frowned upon in our society.

Being rich is immoral. I was convinced of this by A.Q. Smith’s article “It’s Basically Just Immoral to be Rich.” Many utilitarians have made similar arguments, most notably Paul Singer, a philosopher who promotes philanthropic giving to the extreme. Other supporters include Jesus, several Old Testament prophets, and quite a few theologians since then. The long and short of Smith’s argument is that it doesn’t matter how you got rich, the extreme amount of suffering and struggle caused by poverty gives rise to an ethical burden on the wealthy not to keep their wealth.

While this isn’t an unpopular opinion in the history of ethics, it’s an unpopular practice, especially under capitalism.

If you find yourself wealthy, give your money away, like most of it, anything more than, say, $70,000 per year. If merely gifting makes you uncomfortable, create jobs. Pay your employees better.

This last bit is a concession to resistant capitalists. Giving people cash is a pretty sure way they will get their needs met, but cash assistance is unpopular because we view poverty, not wealth, as morally reprehensible.

Let’s refocus though, because we were talking about eating rich people, not convincing them with moral philosophy to change their ways. There’s a carnal difference.

I want wealth to be suspect. I want the accrual of large sums of money to be so repulsive in our culture that rich people are afraid to be rich. I want them to be performatively philanthropic, because to be wealthy is worse than cannibalism.  

(If you are feeling defensive right now, it’s either because you are rich, or you wish you were rich, and you should feel ashamed of yourself and your perversion).

So eat the rich. While you may want to dismiss such a directive as hyperbolic, it is meant to erode our collective agreement that being rich is a moral good. It is not.

Eat Jeff Bezos. Eat Brett Kavanaugh. Eat Elon Musk.

Then, make policy changes. Make it easy to get food stamps, cash assistance, and housing assistance. Make it hard to be wealthy. Because our spending on social programs is peanuts compared to the massive amounts of capital accumulated by the wealthiest people in the world, wealth accrued while evading taxes, wealth accrued while employees subsist on government assistance, despite working full time, wealth accrued while benefiting from a system that supports white, straight, cis, able-bodied men, and actively excludes everyone else. Stop worrying that someone who gets a few thousand dollars per year in government benefits is gaming the system, and start worrying how someone making millions of dollars in a year is evading taxes. Impose steep inheritance taxes.

Our culture is so biased toward protecting wealth, that we are still just fighting for a living minimum wage, but there has been no discussion around a wage ratio. This would create a dependency between the lowest paid workers and highest paid workers. If a CEO wants to make a lot of money, their employees also need to make a lot of money.

I do want to make policy changes, but until then (and maybe even after), I will do my best to be performatively repulsed by the rich. I won’t keep my distrust private. If you’re rich, I think you are bad and deserve public censure until you prove otherwise.

Eat the rich. They are the leeches of our society.

Eat the rich. They are bad at sharing.

Eat the rich. They break laws and use their money to cover it up.

Eat the rich. They don’t put their money back into the economy, but you do.

Eat the rich. They live in gated communities.

Eat the rich. They voted for Trump.

Eat the rich. They are liars and thieves.  

Eat the rich. Eat the rich. Eat the rich.

When I was Homeless in Seattle

In 2013, I was homeless.

It was 5 months, August through December.

I was lucky, because I never had to sleep outside.

I put all my things in storage, and I slept on some friends’ couch or my then-boyfriend’s couch.

I had a small selection of clothes and I went everywhere with my laptop (borrowed from a friend who had an extra one).

I was working, but couldn’t afford a place by myself. Honestly, I still can’t.

The uncertainty, the stress of applying for food assistance, the strain on my friends’ lives who helped me, the daily anxiety, it was awful. Thinking back on it, I can’t imagine what I was thinking starting a relationship while I was in that situation. I didn’t tell my boyfriend I was on food assistance, but he knew I was homeless—even half joked once about how I was dating him for his money. All of this reminds me of how classist this particular boyfriend was and all the reasons why it’s really good things didn’t work out.

During this time, I also read an article on poverty by Linda Tirado, author of Hand to Mouth. If you haven’t read either, I encourage you to do so.

My parents kept telling me to move back to Minnesota. My therapist and I agreed that I should keep trying as long as I was working. Moving back would have meant giving up at the time.

I almost moved to the eastside to rent a room from a friend of a friend. She wanted $500 per month (which today sounds like a dream). I was making about $1500 per month after taxes and I wanted to save up for a deposit on an actual apartment. I couldn’t afford a third of my monthly income for temporary housing. I could only afford $300 per month. She didn’t seem to understand and kept offering the room at $500, like I could somehow just be flexible. Also, I was off food assistance now, because if I worked a full 40 hours per week, my gross earnings put me $20 over the cutoff. So, I had to pay for food, a bus pass, my cell phone (still a dumb phone), my storage unit, student loan payments, and still have enough money in three months to put a deposit down on an apartment—three months was the length of my contract for the job I was working at the time.

Then help arrived: my cousin was moving from California to Seattle. His parents were financing him until he got on his feet, and they offered to rent a 2-bedroom apartment so that I could stop being homeless.

They covered most of my rent and utilities for 2 years. I floated my cousin $300 for rent when I was working (which was only sometimes).

By the time I moved out, I had a full-time job with benefits. While I still can’t afford Seattle rents, I can afford to live here with a roommate. But it took 2 years and a lot of money from my aunt and uncle. I lived somewhere nice with in-unit washer and dryer. I basically won the lottery.

It’s important to understand some things when you are talking about helping homeless people.

 

  • People need what I got—2 years of housing—but sometimes, most of the time, they need it from the state, because their family doesn’t have the kind of resources my aunt and uncle do. Being able not to worry where I was sleeping changed my life. I overcame the worst of my depression and anxiety. I kept my room clean—like for the first time in my life. I bounced back from injuries caused by an accident on a bus. These are things that people in ultra-tiny houses and temporary shelter don’t have space to do—literally or metaphorically. I’m not saying we need to give every homeless person in-unit washers and dryers, but our standard for getting people off the streets needs to be better than a roof and four walls. It needs to be better than a dormitory filled with strangers. People need breathing room. They need keys and doors with locks to keep their stuff safe—even shabby stuff. And they need enough security where they aren’t constantly worried that tonight is their last night indoors. That includes people suffering from mental illness and addiction.

Seattle, huge swaths of it, has forgotten this—and perhaps never bothered to know in the first place. They think it’s ok to dehumanize and demonize people on the streets. These are not lazy people. They are people who started out without a lot and got less and less, even as the people who started out with enough got more than they knew what to do with.

I continue to be in favor of the employee head tax that the city council just repealed. I am in favor of a state income tax and capital gains tax. There is no imaginable reason why we should have two of the richest people in the world living in King County while we have more homeless people than New York City (a city with 11x our population).

The way we treat our most vulnerable matters. It doesn’t matter if we protect big businesses. They have so much going for them, because they already have enough. We need to take care of the people who don’t have enough. Those people, you’ll find, will most often be people of color, neural a-typical, LGBTQIA+. They will be the people whose families have neglected them, whose generational wealth has been stymied over centuries of oppression, who don’t have affluent aunts and uncles. If we’re going to be a progressive city, we need to do this and do it right.

Risk Management and Homelessness

My company is moving to a new HQ in Seattle’s downtown core. Crime rates are higher as is the concentration of homelessness (not that either is nonexistent just 1.7 miles north) . This is a risk in terms of employee safety, but another risk is employees being skittish about being in an urban environment–because of pearl clutching, which could affect employee retention or adoption of the changes. You can’t do a lot to mitigate genuine safety risks when people are outside of the building–because they are a) rare, b) random/unlucky, c) in the open air.

Nonetheless, we’ve taken security risks seriously and planned substantive security processes to reasonably address them.

BUT what we haven’t done is account for perceived threats: AKA homeless people. A large chunk of my coworkers don’t like homeless people and don’t want to be around them. This is because they incorrectly believe their safety is threatened by the existence of homeless people. It’s a weird risk. It’s an extremely common risk.We risk a mutiny as soon as the safety police start sharing articles about crime rates in the neighborhood on our community message boards.

How do you get your employees to treat their homeless neighbors as people? After all, we’re moving into their neighborhood. They were there first. Aren’t homeless people only a “problem” when we treat them poorly? Isn’t that why they are homeless in the first place?

Mitigation: have a volunteer day. Wear our company t-shirts. Introduce ourselves. Hand out food or clothes or toiletries or bus passes. Do something for our neighbors. Then they’ll be people to us, and we’ll be people to them, and those safety alarmists won’t get nearly the amount of traction they would otherwise.

Sometimes the best way to mitigate a risk is to act like a human being. Also, safety and security trainings just make people never want to leave their homes. Anything could happen and has happened, and there is no realistic way to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

I haven’t seen my boss’s risk log on this project, but I would be willing to bet a lot of money that at no point did he think that our employees might be a risk to our homeless neighbors.

 

Edit: a previous version of this piece included specifics about the security steps my company is taking to keep employees safe. This was meant to provide a robust account of how seriously we take employee safety.  I agreed to edit those details when a former coworker took umbridge with some adjacent but unrelated interactions and reported this piece to my HR department in the hopes that I would be disciplined or fired. I agreed to pair down the security details, in the interest of security, but I was not required to edit this piece as a condition of further employment or as a form of discipline.

Starbucks (Yay!) is Still a Corporation (Boo!)

A lot of corporations do things that are bad for the world, whether that’s the environment or people or both. Starbucks is not an exception to that.
 
In doing racial bias training in all their American stores, they are doing the right thing, insofar as there is a right thing. Yes, it’s PR. Yes, they should already have done it, and every company in America should start doing it yesterday and 20 years ago and 60 years ago, in perpetuity. 
 
If you are of the opinion that Starbucks shouldn’t exist because of your opinions about corporations in general, I don’t expect you to be happy with them. Nothing will make you happy about their behavior except for closing their doors.
 
If you have a less condemning view of Starbucks, you will appreciate the difference between Starbucks’ response and any major airline’s response to racist behavior on the part of their employees in the last couple years, or any police force after the summary execution of an unarmed black man or woman. You know that corporations are haneously bad at responding to backlash. You are relieved that Starbucks isn’t haneously bad in this way.
 
There are layers to this. Starbucks’ exploitative practices in sourcing and their use of non-compostable plastics is bad. They are doing a thing, unrelated to those bad things, that is not bad, at the very least, better than average.
 
The question for you, especially if you mostly don’t mind corporations, is whether or not to lean into the other layers. The other layers require something of you. If corporations are problematic, so might be how you spend your money on them. If Starbucks is exploiting POC in Central and South America and contributing significantly to our plastic problem, should you support them with your dollars? That’s a good question to ask yourself.
 
And I get that this is complex, that there are many, many people who depend on Starbucks for jobs and meeting places, and wifi. I get that condemning a corporation as whole runs the risk of, in fact, disenfranchising marginalized groups who use and depend on the services the corporation is providing.
 
I confess to not liking Starbucks’ products, so I do not personally spend my money there (side note: I am calling a moratorium on the practice of giving Starbucks gift cards as office gifts; please, get anything else at all). But Starbucks is inescapable in the world, especially in Seattle, so I know I have to contend with them one way or another.
I don’t feel like I have clear guidance or an opinion on this issue. Rather it has simply struck me as I see some of social media feeds consumed with debate about this that there is a difference between saying “oh that is better than usual; I will save my outrage,” and “corporations are bad; this is no time to let this one off the hook.” I’d even go so far as to say they are not mutually exclusive. I don’t think there is ever a good time to let a corporation off the hook, but just like with the airlines, I feel completely powerless to steer the fundamental function of the business model. If I don’t have to be outraged over their response to an employee calling the police on two black men for absolutely no reason (especially because I am already furious that the police were called in the first place), I will keep living my life, which includes not buying Starbucks 99.9% of the time.

King County Chair Resigns

Yesterday, King County Democrats Chair, Bailey Stober, resigned.

I wasn’t there, because I was celebrating my most holy of holy days, Pascha, known to western Christianity as Easter. The long and short explanation for why I celebrate Christ’s resurrection on a different day from everyone else is that most of the eastern church is on an old calendar and they refuse to change.

That feels like it should be an allegory for the King County Democrats in this whole saga. Workplace harassment, sexual harassment. You’d think a county that includes the Most Progressive City in the Country™ would have responded better to these issues. Instead they allowed Bailey to drag out this process for a full two months.

It feels fitting that he resigned on Holy Pascha. Sorry to my fellow Democrats who have a gag reflex at religion, but bear with me while I revel in this symbolism.

In the words of St. John Chrystostom, “O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns.”

Record scratch.

Wait, his resignation isn’t effective until midnight on Saturday of this week? Oh, for fuck’s sake.

Nonetheless, Stober was found guilty on all five counts of workplace misconduct. We won’t have to have a meeting of the PCOs to vote him out, and the key players can move on with their lives.

There is a lot of work for KCDCC in the coming year, relational and emotional rifts, broken trust, and just plain old financial insolvency. The work, the real work of electing Democrats, still needs doing.

I understand if you are a woman and you feel disenfranchised right now. Your party doesn’t seem to have your back they way you thought it would or the way it definitely should. I have learned something in recent years that has become one my centrally held beliefs: The Patriarchy is not just a poison spread by our political and ideological opponents; The Patriarchy is endemic to every one of our systems and institutions. Voting for pro-choice candidates and funding Planned Parenthood does not undo that. Women can be both victims and enablers. The work is hard because The Patriarchy designed itself not to be overthrown. I know that’s not encouraging, but I hope you’ll stay anyway. I hope you’ll keep doing this work in this party, even in KCDCC, especially now that it’s time to vote in a new chair.

36th Legislative District March Meeting

Bailey Stober, Chair of the King County Democrats, still hasn’t resigned. He could resign via e-mail at any time, though he has intimated that he has an important announcement to make at the March 27th meeting, location TBD.

Last night, however, my home legislative district voted on a resolution calling for Stober’s resignation. Unsurprisingly, some of the women at the center of the controversy, Natalia Koss Vallejo and Mona Das, were present, though they are not residents of the 36th. Bailey was also there at the start of the meeting but left shortly after we started.

I have been attending 36th meetings regularly for just over a year. Even though I had project management classes on Wednesday nights for 9 months, I would sometimes skip class to attend and participate in local democracy.

I am an acting precinct committee officer. At first, I was accidentally assigned to two precincts. One of my only interactions with Bailey was over e-mail rectifying this error and asking that he only sign off on one precinct appointment. Thus, I became an acting PCO in precinct 36-3699. This means, I have a vote in our meetings.

The 36th district is known for being the bluest district in the state—encompassing Ballard, Phinney Ridge, Magnolia, Queen Anne, and even Belltown. We consistently vote for democrats up and down the ballot. We are so sure of our candidate’s victories in our own district, that we adopt a district each year and canvas for them. While I would like to see more people of color in positions of leadership, I can’t deny that the executive board is solidly progressive. A couple members even attempted to change our bylaws to be able to endorse candidates who aren’t Democrats, like Nikkita Oliver. In communities of color, especially the Black community, north Seattle has a bad rap, and that’s not wrong. We’re a wealthy district and we live in desirable, majority white neighborhoods where property values are some of the least affordable. I can only afford to live where I do because I have a roommate. I would need to be making 22% more than my current income to afford my below-market apartment on my own (but we can talk about that later).

In the last month, I have been to two KC Dems meetings, and I have written about those experiences, the climate of the room, and the lack of process in place to address the need for Bailey’s resignation. I don’t know what they are like when it comes to less contentious subjects, but I will say that being back in my LD was a comfort. And that comfort was not the familiar faces of my neighbors, but came directly from the top, from the leadership of our chair, Jeff Manson.

I like Jeff. I have always liked Jeff, even when I have paused to ask myself why this progressive district is led by a white man. The answer is in his presentation of last night’s resolution. It is rare for a chair to present on a resolution. The impartiality of the chair is a valued tradition and Jeff adheres to it. However, Jeff broke with tradition last night, and presented on the resolution calling for Stober’s resignation, not before explaining his reasons and giving space for anyone to voice their objections. No one objected.

I had prepared a statement in defense of the resolution. As Jeff spoke, passionately and precisely, I felt affirmed. He was touching on all the points I had planned to make. He was saying things that I have said during this conflict, in whispers, between eyerolls, in post-meeting car rides. He was saying those things, not in opposition to power, but as the person in power. I felt my insides melting—trepidation gave way to hope and feeling seen. Jeff stated at several intervals that he believed the accusations of sexual harassment and emphasized that our resolution’s scope only included whether we believed Bailey should resign as chair, making an apt distinction between kinds of due process.

When Jeff finished, we had several technical questions, none of which came across as hostile. Before anyone had a chance for debate (at which point I would have volunteered to make a statement), a member made a motion to “call the question.” For those of you unfamiliar with Robert’s Rules, this is how to end debate on something when you think further debate would not be fruitful or you are in a time crunch. Calling the question needs to be approved by a two thirds majority. Otherwise, debate is allowed to continue. The motion passed handily. Moments later, the 36th LD unanimously passed the resolution calling for Bailey to resign as chair of the King County Democrats, 96-0.

Here is the statement I would have read, had there been any call to do so:

“I was raised in a conservative environment where I saw multiple men abuse their power with no consequences. I am a survivor of sexual assault. I cut all ties with the Republican party, because I knew that my voice as woman would be discounted, not matter my qualifications. I joined the Democratic Party guided by the belief that this was a party that supports, empowers, and believes women. Allowing Bailey Stober to continue as chair of the King County Democrats only sends a message to women that we only believe them if they accuse our political opponents.

Even if we were not in this moment, if the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements were not the focus of our public discourse, King County Democrats is broke. They are not financially viable and will not become viable as long as Bailey is chair.

But we are in this moment in time. The #TimesUp and #MetToo movements are central to our discourse. So, I urge you, if you are inclined to lament to lost potential of Bailey’s leadership, to instead consider the lost potential of the women in the organization who will be disenfranchised if Bailey stays.”

I firmly believe that this passed because Jeff spoke in favor of it and because he so rarely does so. I believe that Jeff and other leaders have built a healthy organization, an environment where women and workers are supported, protected, and believed. Jeff volunteers are chair in service to the party, not so that the party can serve him. The last line of our resolution called for 36th Dems to investigate and put into place the correct procedures for removing our own chair in a similar situation. This is significant, because it signals Jeff’s understanding that his wisdom is not infinite, and that we need transparency and process to protect us from abuses of power.

This is in such stark contrast with Bailey’s behavior since allegations of creating a hostile work environment and sexually harassing his employee surfaced. Bailey has tried to use Robert’s rules and the lack of process to stall and protect himself. He has performed political theater, and all but used the Trumpian line “fake news.” This is abuse. Even if somehow all the allegations against him were false or misleading, his behavior toward the executive board of the KC Dems has been abusive. Culture is created at the top. And the atmosphere of abuse created by leadership is toxic and infectious. It created the mentality that the leaks to media were worse than the accusations being made. It allowed Bailey to draw out this process, further deteriorating the function of the organization.

Last night was a breath of fresh air to me, because I was finally in a room where my leader wasn’t trying to gaslight everyone.

King County Democrats Call for Chair’s Resignation

If three weeks ago Bailey had stood before the body and announced he was an alcoholic, that he was seeking treatment, and would step down as chair at least for the duration of the investigation, he would have a future political career. If he had done so on Monday night, he might still have had a future in politics. However, after a 38-13 vote calling for his resignation at last night’s King County Democrats Executive Committee Meeting yielded only contention from him, Stober has forfeited his political future.

I do hope that Bailey addresses what appears to be alcoholism. I hope he learns how to be kind, when so often he has chosen not to be. But the Democratic party is not worse off without a man who abuses his power; intimidates, bullies, and threatens employees, volunteers, and colleagues; fat shames women; and bankrupts his organization.

I attended Monday night’s meeting. This time, Bailey made a motion not to go into Executive Session, meaning, the press and I were all allowed to stay in the room. It was the only motion he brought to the floor that passed all evening. The whole atmosphere had shifted in the few weeks since the last meeting. I sat with the accusers, victims, and allies who did not have a vote or a voice in the meeting. A couple alternates and a voting committee member sat with us as well, and we conferred about each development and how to respond.

I felt assured that we had reached a turning point when Bailey’s second attempt to make a statement in his defense was voted down. He was trying to amend an approved agenda and had indicated that he had evidence to present (presumably against his former employee, Natalia Koss Vallejo). However, this was not a trial, the agenda had been approved, and they had set a specific end-time. He didn’t get his six minutes or his 15 minutes. All he could do was stall the inevitable.

About 2 hours in, we were less than a third through the agenda. Miraculously, though (or because of the presiding chair), we made it all the way through every agenda item, including setting a deadline for calling a special PCO meeting, a motion calling for Bailey’s resignation, and a motion preventing him from chairing the next meeting.

These are big wins for women, and they signal the end of Bailey’s tenure as chair. I don’t want to overstate this success though. The victims don’t get what all victims want, need, and deserve: a heartfelt apology. Bailey has upt to this point continued to deny any and all wrongdoing. While some form of justice will eventually be served, it will be justice delayed.

I need to talk about something equally contentious, but having noticed it, I cannot unnotice it, and I feel like I need to say something.

I observed that some of the most vocal defenders of Bailey were Black. As a community, that is a reality we need to attend to going forward. I think Bailey needs to go, but I am worried it will alienate people whose voices I value—people whose voices are too often silenced and overlooked. I can’t tell a black woman that something isn’t about race. If I’ve learned anything at all, it’s that pretty much everything is about race. The victims and accusers don’t have to feel a racial motivation for race to be involved. I acknowledge the racial history both of this country and of this county. Bringing down Bailey feels like yet another way that white folks and non-black POC make it impossible for black folks to thrive. That is a sentiment that makes sense to me and is valid for a lot of reasons—not the least of which include losses by candidates such as Erin Jones and Nikkita Oliver. I say this knowing that many witnesses and allies are women of color, and I know there is a diversity of opinion on this, even among Black members of KC Dems. I want to acknowledge the tension I observed here, and not minimize those natural and justified feelings. If I need to silence Black men and women to justify my position, then my position is wrong.

I know this piece might leave me looking conflicted about the way forward for KC Dems. I am not. There is ample evidence that Stober has behaved problematically, and the narrative here has reached a critical mass. KC Dems will not be a viable organization unless Stober steps down or is removed. I do care about relationships, and I do care about the message being sent and to whom. I do genuinely care about achieving the intersectional ideals I espouse. One comment I hear repeatedly in arguments calling for Stober’s resignation is that we are sending the wrong message to women and workers, the message that we will not protect them or believe them. That’s not the message we want to send or should be sending. Let’s be equally cognisant of what message ousting Bailey sends to our Black members.