The current U.S. national debt, as of 10:55 a.m. Thursday, stood at more than $13 trillion, and counting. As a taxpayer, your personal share today is more than $118,000. Does that concern you?
Take heart, because a group of South Sound residents is gathering next Saturday to join other ordinary citizens across America to figure out how to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion by 2025. “Regular Joes” in more than 60 cities are attempting to do in a single day what President Barack Obama’s 18-member National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform might not get done in seven months.
A nonprofit organization called AmericaSpeaks is organizing this national town meeting that will simultaneously link all the meeting sites, including Olympia, to make choices on spending and tax policy to get the federal budget balanced. A report compiled after the one-day event will be presented to the president’s commission at a briefing.
AmericaSpeaks has organized direct democracy meetings on a variety of topics to help state, local and federal officials better understand the public’s policy preferences.
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Ellen O’Brien Saunders, a former state agency director and a friend of AmericaSpeaks President Carolyn Lukensmeyer, invited The Olympian to convene the local event. Others who have jumped on board to make Olympia’s voice heard on the national stage include South Puget Sound Community College, which has donated a room at its Hawks Prairie campus to host the town meeting, The Evergreen State College, Saint Martin’s University, the League of Women Voters of Thurston County, Thurston-Lewis Labor Council, the United Way of Thurston County and the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce.
There is still space available for this event. Registration is needed, and can be done through www. usabudgetgetdiscussion.org. It’s important that the federal spending priorities of Americans include the voices of South Sound residents. Thanks to Saunders and these local groups, we will be heard.
CONGRATS to Rabbi Seth Goldstein of Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia. He has been named one of the top 10 Jews under the age of 40 in Washington state who are making a difference in their communities. In bestowing the honor, the JTNews, a Seattle-based Jewish newspaper, said that New York-born Goldstein never planned on becoming a rabbi. But after visiting Temple Beth Hatfiloh, Olympia’s Reconstructionist synagogue, as a student rabbi, he couldn’t resist an opportunity to pull this region’s Jewish community together.
STILL SHAKIN’. After last week’s column about how I’m tracing my hand-shaking lineage to a better class of ancestors than my blood is likely to produce, I received great news from Olympian Jerry Reilly, with whom I have shaken hands. Jerry has shaken hands with Glenn Hudson, whose grandmother was the daughter of William Herndon, a law partner of President Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Ill. Hudson sat on his grandmother’s knee and she, as a child, once sat on Lincoln’s knee. That makes me four shakes removed from the man who delivered the Gettysburg Address, if we count knees.
Don’t forget to join Dr. Jennifer Shannon at the Dockside Bistro tomorrow night for a delicious meal that will support the struggling Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties. ... The Shelton School District received a grant from the Kroger Company Foundation for its backpack program. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction ranked Shelton with the ninth-highest number of homeless students in the state. Eight percent of those enrolled qualify as homeless. ... Sean Chatterton and Jason Paxton, both from Olympia, and Ryan Mendell of Lacey are the state’s three newest State Patrol members. Chatterton has been assigned to Yakima and Paxton will serve in Hoquiam, while Mendell is headed to Tacoma. ... All six candidates for the 3rd Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Brian Baird will attend a public forum at 7 p.m. Thursday in The Olympia Center.
George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, can be reached at 360-357 0206 or firstname.lastname@example.org.