Thursday, April 22, 2010

Scoop Jackson Republicans for the environment

"A blueprint for Republican environmentalism"
by Hans Zeiger

Evergreen State Republicans are thinking more than they usually do about the possibilities of a statewide governing majority. What Republicans probably aren’t thinking much about is this week's Earth Day 40. But if the Republican majority in Washington state is to be more than short-lived, Republicans will have to learn to take the environment seriously. They should look to the great Democrat Scoop Jackson as a model.

Sen. Henry M. Jackson of Washington was one of the great conservationist senators in our nation’s history. In 1969, the Sierra Club named Jackson the first politician to receive its John Muir Award. Though Jackson was considered a liberal until the Vietnam era, he was a model of conservative environmental statesmanship.

Jackson called for the protection of “our national wilderness system” while “meeting, outside the wilderness reserves, all our needs for commodities and for developed recreational areas.”

Jackson sponsored or co-sponsored the Wilderness Act of 1964 to preserve millions of acres of land, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968, the Alaska Native Claims Act of 1971 to grant 40 million acres of land to Alaska natives, and several national park bills. He authored and persuaded President Nixon to sign the Public Lands for Parks Bill of 1969, allowing the federal government to donate or discount surplus lands to state or local governments for parkland. He pushed through the National Environmental Policy Act to require environmental impact statements for large federal activities and fought to save the Everglades from agricultural drainage.

In all of this, according to Ben Wattenberg of the American Enterprise Institute and PBS, “Jackson was not an ecology freak who considered industry a villain or development an anathema. He was a balancer who believed in the possibility and necessity of reconciling environmental protection with robust economic growth.”

In short, Jackson was a conservative environmentalist.

Thus, when the New Left began to promote a more regulatory approach to the environment in the 1970s, the conservationist Sen. Jackson had no sympathy for “environmental extremists who attribute all our nation’s environmental ills to economic growth and to our large gross national product.” The new environmental left preached “a gloom and doom view of America that denies the existence of progress,” he said.

For Jackson and other traditional conservationists, economic and technological advancement were entirely compatible with environmental protection. But as soon as the priorities of the environmental movement shifted from conservation to the restructuring of society, it became very difficult for political leaders to restore the kind of balancing statesmanship that Wattenberg had attributed to Scoop Jackson.

With liberal environmentalists setting the terms of the debate, Republicans often assumed the defensive. But Republicans can no longer afford to be the Party of No on the environment. Not with many Americans demanding positive, constructive environmental solutions and ready for a revival of Jackson's pro-conservation, pro-free enterprise, pro-limited government answers to environmental challenges.

If Republicans are to succeed in the 21st century, they must study Jackson’s example of environmental statesmanship. They must learn how to think and communicate effectively about the environment—without sounding like liberals on one hand or careless opponents of clean air and water on the other. Republicans must get involved with private-sector initiatives in the Northwest like the Cascade Land Conservancy and Stewardship Partners.

Republicans will face painful consequences for failing to change their approach to the environment. Failure to present positive alternatives to the regulatory status quo will allow liberal environmentalists to continue to set the environmental agenda. Failure to formulate a strong environmental agenda of their own will hurt Republicans in short-term elections and long-term overall effectiveness.

Acceptance of environmental conservation as a fundamental part of the Republican platform will open doors of opportunity across the country, and especially in the Northwest. It’s time for a few more Scoop Jackson Republicans for the environment.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day Speech

Tax Day Speech: Three Great Politicians from Puyallup
Puyallup Kiwanis
April 15, 2010
Hans Zeiger

I apologize that I won’t be able to lift your spirits on Tax Day. I’ve heard the suggestion that we should move tax day to the first week in November so that we can put Election Day in some perspective. These days, we hear a lot of complaining about our politicians, but you know, this community has elected some good ones over the years. This community has produced a governor, a State House Speaker, a State Senate Majority Leader, a State Treasurer, three State Superintendents, a member of Congress, and of course most importantly, an august and distinguished body of eminent beings known widely throughout the world for their harmonious deliberations—the Puyallup City Council.

But this morning I want to talk about three great political leaders from Puyallup in our early history. They came from different points of view and different backgrounds, but they shared a deep love for this community and left a deep imprint on it. One was a conservative Republican, one was a liberal Progressive, and one was a Populist. All three have landmarks in the community named for them.

The first great statesman from Puyallup was John Rogers. John Rankin Rogers was born in Brunswick, Maine in 1838 and became a professional wanderer who worked at various times as a farmer, teacher, pharmacist, drugstore manager, newspaper editor, and political organizer in the states of Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Illinois, and Kansas. He was an endlessly curious and restless man who could never stay put. It was late in life when he finally found what he had been searching for all those years. He found a place and a calling. The place was Puyallup, and the calling was the leader of the Populist movement in Washington State. He had been the editor of a Populist newspaper in Kansas, and his son had moved up to the Northwest and started a newspaper of his own in Puyallup. So the elder Rogers went up to join his son. They worked on the Populist newspaper just as the People’s Party and the national movement for free silver and land reform was picking up steam. He was a tireless writer of pamphlets and books. And within a couple years, Rogers had been elected to the State Senate from the Puyallup area.

He is best remembered because he is the man who first took the words of the State Constitution seriously in working to implement them. Our Constitution says that education is the “paramount duty of the state.” Washington Territory took education very seriously; our first territorial governor Isaac Stevens said that every child should have the equal opportunity to receive an education.

So State Senator Rogers introduced what has become known as the Barefoot Schoolboy Bill in 1893. It proposed that there should be adequate funding for the Basic Education of every child in the state. And that was a radical thing, because it meant that if you lived in the Valley and went to Maplewood School you had just the same right to a basic education as if you lived in the Woodland area and went to Woodland School. And it was to say that all of us together have an interest in the education of the young, even the Barefoot Schoolboys and Schoolgirls. And that was actually a hard sell with the big cities at the time, because that meant they would have to pay more taxes to cover the poorer rural areas. So Rogers lost his first attempt to get that bill in the Senate. But he was a persistent man. He introduced the bill again, and it failed, and then again. His persistence paid off, because he was also a persuasive man. And in the very final days of the 1893 session, the Rogers Barefoot Schoolboy Bill passed.

Guess how much the per pupil state cost of basic education was for one year? $6.

There was a reward for Rogers’s persistence, and it isn’t just that they named a school in Puyallup after him. People in this state have always loved education, and if you are a champion of it, you can become a hero. Rogers suddenly became a sensation, and in the 1896 election, he was elected governor.

Of course, Rogers had his critics. Some accused him of being the political agent of Ezra Meeker. The editor of the Olympia Standard John Murphy referred to Meeker as “the antiquated fraud.” Murphy had a nickname for Rogers also: “His accidency.” Murphy and others suspected that Rogers was trying to move the state capitol to the so-called “hop yard” known as Puyallup. Well, Rogers ended up vetoing a bill on his desk to finance the completion of a state capitol, and he proposed moving into the Thurston County courthouse as an alternative, which was eventually what happened. Murphy covered the news of the veto this way: “His accidency hied himself to Puyallup Saturday after vetoing the capitol bill to receive the plaudits of an admiring constituency. He was received with open arms by that antiquated fraud Ezra Meeker.”

Rogers was known for his vetoes and threats of vetoes which kept spending to a minimum in a time of economic difficulty. In fact, the state budget was $3 million in the biennium before Rogers took office, and as a result of Rogers’s veto power and influence, he was able to get the budget down to about $1.2 million for the 1897-1899 biennium. He died shortly after leaving the governor’s mansion.

And by the way, John Rogers is the only former governor in the history of our state to have a statue in his honor. It stands outside the State Education Building in Olympia, where Puyallup’s own Buster Brouillet, Judith Billings, and now Randy Dorn would eventually work. And Rogers is the only former governor to have not only a high school named in his honor, but two high schools—one in Puyallup, and one in Spokane.

The second great Puyallup political leader was William Hall Paulhamus, born in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania in the last month of the Civil War, who made his way out west as soon as he could and became a banker and part-time sheriff in Tacoma by 1890. The author Earl Chapman May later described Paulhamus as “blue-eyed, bullet-headed, kindly but positive, stocky and aggressive.” He had the unusual combination of great intelligence, great ambition, and great moral character. He was a Christian Scientist by faith. So here he was in a Tacoma bank, and he was getting bored.

The adventure writer Lewis Theiss later wrote a profile of Paulhamus in a 1916 Outlook magazine. He wrote, “Banking did not seem to offer much to this young man. On the other hand, the land presented a promising prospect. Crystal streams flowed through the near-by bottom lands. The black, virgin soil was so rich that vegetation sprang up overnight. One had only to tickle the earth with a hoe and it burst into a smile of golden fruits and berries. The prospect was too alluring to be resisted. The young man gave up his bank position, bought a few acres in a modern Eden called Puyallup, some eight miles from Tacoma, and became, like most of his neighbors, a fruit and berry raiser.”

He had 17 acres, and his first crops were fruitful. But he couldn’t make a decent living from it. He discovered that most of the other farmers around him in the Valley weren’t making much of a living either; many of them were downright poor. And the reason for that was that they were all underselling each other in the local markets, which meant that berry prices were lower than they needed to be. Paulhamus sized up the problem. He called a meeting of the berry farmers in Puyallup and Sumner. And he said this very simple thing that defined not only his economic but his political philosophy: “In union there is strength. Also there is good living. Let us get together.”

That gathering became the Puyallup and Sumner Fruit Growers’ Association in 1902, with Paulhamus as it president. Whether you had a little berry patch behind your house downtown or a big berry field in Riverside, you could buy a share in the Association, and in exchange for delivering your berries to the Association you would receive a market rate for your produce. And as growers were paid more, there was a real incentive to produce more. The growth was phenomenal. Before long, Paulhamus had a different kind of problem. Now, there was an over-supply of berries.

Once again, Paulhamus stepped in with a brilliant solution. He said, it’s simple – What do you do when you have extra berries? You can them. So Paulhamus took $50,000 that the Association had accrued in savings and built the cannery right in the heart of downtown Puyallup. In the three years from 1912 to 1915, raspberry canning went through the roof from 162,000 pounds to 3 million pounds. And Puyallup became the world leader in blackberry jam. By the time World War I came around, Puyallup’s cannery supplied all the blackberry jam for the United States Army.

Paulhamus is probably best remembered as the principal founder of the Puyallup Fair. Paulhamus basically built the Fair. In the early days of the Fair, Paulhamus was the Fair’s manager, police chief, horse racing judge, and announcer. You’d see him there at the Grandstand with his bullhorn. He was engaged in that project at the same time he was building the berry industry, and often there was some overlap. For example, in 1913, Paulhamus invited a family whose name was Fisher to make scones at the Fair, and he provided his own personal raspberry jam recipe to go with the scone. We could go on about Paulhamus’s role in the Fair.

Well in 1907 Paulhamus was appointed to fill a vacancy in the state senate. He was probably the highest ranking freshman Senator in the history of this state. He was chairman of the powerful Railroad Committee as well as the Transportation Committee, and he was named to the appropriations committee, the banking committee, the roads and bridges committee, and the taxation committee. In the Senate he fought successfully for a number of things that endure to this day. He led the fight for the Orting Soldiers Home, for flood control funding, for road improvement, and for reopening the Puyallup Experiment Station. Paulhamus was a Progressive Republican who looked to Theodore Roosevelt as a national figure, and temperamentally the two figures were similar.

Like Roosevelt, Paulhamus was a fierce opponent of corruption in government. And Paulhamus’s most important achievement in the Senate came in 1909 when he led the fight for government accountability and ethics. After state insurance commissioner John Schively and Secretary of State Sam Nichols were accused of misappropriating funds and extortion, Paulhamus called for the legislature to authorize oversight investigations of all state departments. The old boys in the senate pushed back and defeated the proposal. Tensions rose between defenders of the status quo and Paulhamus’s reformers. After observing several incidences of physical violence in the corridors of the capitol, the Olympia Recorder dubbed the session the “Fighting Legislature.” Despite the controversy, Paulhamus continued to insist on reform. Finally, on the very last day of the session, the House passed an authorization bill, and when it came to the Senate, it passed by one vote. In the course of the ensuing investigation, the corruption was found to be much deeper. The state’s chief highway engineer had run away with money from the unauthorized sale of a right-of-way near Lake Keechelus, the adjutant general of the Washington National Guard had embezzled thousands of dollars, and even members of the State Supreme Court were caught embezzling.
The most important part of all of this was that the people of Washington saw what had happened and raised their expectations for public service. And that was thanks to Paulhamus. Paulhamus’s greatest achievement in the State Senate was that he took a bold stand for the integrity of state government. So William Paulhamus of Puyallup was not only the father of the Fair and the father of the berry industry in the valley, he was also the father of government accountability in Washington State. Paulhamus ran for governor as a Progressive Bull Mooser in 1912, the same year Roosevelt was running for President on that ticket. Even though he lost, he was able to advance his reform ideas further through the campaign. He also turned down job offers in two presidential administrations. He preferred to do his work in the Puyallup Valley, and through it all he was a man of great integrity. In W.P. Bonney’s 1927 history of Pierce County, he wrote, “Throughout all the years of his residence here Mr. Paulhamus was true to every trust reposed in him.”

The third great Puyallup statesmen was Dr. Warner Karshner, who has become one of my personal heroes, and not just because I attended Karshner Elementary as a kid. Rosemary Eckerson can correct me if I get anything wrong about Karshner. Karshner was born in Ohio in 1880 and came out here from the Midwest with his family to homestead in the Puyallup Valley. They fixed up a plot of land and sold it to some pamphleteer who had just blown into town from Kansas, named John Rogers.

Karshner went to study medicine at the University of Washington. After graduating, he and his wife Ella returned to Puyallup where he began his medical practice. He delivered hundreds of Puyallup babies, performed major surgeries with great skill, and conducted the first successful stomach cancer surgery in Pierce County. He took time away during World War I to run an army hospital in Georgia. He was a poet, an author, a newspaper columnist, a world traveler, a public philosopher, a scientist, and a civic booster. Every time there was an event in town where some group needed a speaker, Karshner was the go-to man, because he always had something brilliant and insightful to say. He was the commencement speaker at Puyallup High School year after year. He served on the School Board and advocated a modern high school building in the early 1900s. Then he was elected to the State Senate as a Republican in 1916.

After he won the Puyallup Valley Tribune wrote that he was “a man of courage, ability, and unswerving integrity. There will be few men in the next legislature so highly trained in mind and by habits of industry. He is at once a student and a thinker; alert, active, purposeful. He delves for the facts himself. If the truth is there he finds it … He can’t be led or fooled.”

Well Dr. Karshner was the leading conservative Republican of the State Senate in his time. He was so conservative on social issues that he not only wanted Prohibition but he wanted Prohibition on communion wine. And he was a limited government conservative. The News Tribune once wrote, “Senator Karshner … has from the very first fought for a program of economy, even to the point of raising the ire of other legislators by his determined stand for lower taxes.” He was frequently calling for tax cuts and spending cuts. Just 20 years after John Rogers was dealing with $1 million to $3 million budgets, the general budget had risen to $50 million. And that was too much for Karshner, who sat on the Appropriations Committee. “Out of a general budget of something like $50,000,000, less than half is of special interest to the general taxpayer.” Dr. Karshner was outspokenly opposed to the public power lobby. Karshner voted against funding for the Centralia Normal School, the Spokane Women’s Clinic, the Northwest Tourist Fund, an Orthopedic program, and others. He said that these were “measures which I feel have no standing in law.” And when the economy was tough around the time of World War I, Senator Karshner said that it would be wrong to raise taxes.

There’s a cartoon of Dr. Karshner standing in front of a patient on the operating table and he’s raising a giant cleaver above his head. The patient has a name tag which says, “Appropriations.”

Karshner was a limited government conservative, but that wasn’t because he was opposed to worthy community efforts. He just happened to believe that there ought to be a wide sphere for private philanthropy in any community, and it’s best if the state can create policies to encourage that rather than trying to do what caring people in a community can do just as well themselves. And Karshner practiced what he preached. Good Samaritan Hospital is one of Karshner’s legacies. He led the fundraising drive for the Puyallup Valley Hospital in the early 1920s, and the money for the hospital was raised within the community. So Karshner called on people in Puyallup to give generously to the work of building Puyallup Valley Hospital at 4th and Meridian. They raised $150,000 for the building and equipment.

It wouldn’t surprise you that Kiwanis was heavily involved in that. In fact, when the hospital opened in 1922, Kiwanis sponsored a pie eating contest, and the purpose of the pie eating contest was to see who could be the first patient in the new hospital. I propose that you should repeat that when the new building opens next year. Those of you from Sumner can supply some of your world-famous strawberry-rhubarb pie.

In addition to his work in health care, Karshner appreciated the value of education. As I said, he was the default commencement speaker at the high school, and in his commencement speech of 1915 he told the graduates that there was something expected of them in exchange for the public investment that was made for their school years. And that was that they were to “make good.” “Don’t hide your light under a bushel,” he told them.

Dr. Karshner may have been for limited government, but that doesn’t mean that he was opposed to funding education. In the tradition of that other budget-cutter John Rogers, Senator Karshner believed that education was a public priority. The state’s number one tax cutter and spending limiter was also its biggest proponent for school funding. He once called for “a state tax sufficient to cover the educational load.” He was a proponent for levy equalization, and he thought that the state should fully fund basic education.

Of course, not only is a school named after Dr. Karshner, but he also donated thousands of items from his travels to the Puyallup School District in honor of his son who was a Puyallup High School student when he died in 1927. So the Karshner legacy lives on.

These three men I’ve described hailed from different political philosophies, different backgrounds. Rogers spent his whole life wandering until he found Puyallup, Paulhamus discovered Puyallup after he got bored in Tacoma, and Karshner spent his formative years here and returned as an adult. One man was a pamphleteer and political organizer, one was an agricultural entrepreneur, and one was a doctor and public intellectual. But these men had a couple of things in common: a love for Puyallup, and a passion for public service. Rogers left a lasting legacy in K-12 education, Paulhamus left behind the Fair, the berries, and a more responsible political culture, and Karshner left behind a dual belief in limited government and strong communities. These men were neighbors, and they worked together in the great project of building this community and this state. That is a project worth continuing. Thanks to all of you for everything you’re doing to make that happen. And thanks for letting me speak with you.