Friday, April 6, 2012

The 1% & Their Lackeys Behind OccupyTheCapitol.org

 From http://pugetsoundanarchists.org/node/993 


A domain name lookup of occupythecapitol.org reveals that the name was registered and is administered by "Fuse Technology Director" with an address of 1402 Third Avenue, Suite 310, Seattle, WA 98101. The registrant and admin contact email is webmaster@fusewashington.org .

There are hyperlinks throughout Occupy The Capitol (OTC) site that take you to Convio (an internet marketing company used by many non-profit organizations) pages created by and copyrighted by Fuse Washington (FW).

For instance, as of this writing (11/26/2011), near the top of OTC home page, it says: "We will occupy our state capitol in Olympia during the special legislative session, and we will tell our lawmakers that we have had enough. Click here to sign up and join us!" Following the link on "here" takes you to a FW page.
It seems clear that FW is playing a major role in running the OTC web site and probably the OTC campaign itself. Curiously, you won't find any mention of FW on the OTC site.

So, what's the story on FW? Well, it's not easy to find out much about the origins of FW. I haven't had time to request and read FW's incorporation records but the Washington Secretary of State's site does reveal that FW was incorporated in 2007. But let's take a look at some FW's decision-makers, its Board of Directors. FW has the Board's bios on its site and in what follows I will examine the partisan and economic orientation of just the four officers on the eight-member Board of Directors (I didn't do any research on the other Directors). Here goes:
  • Suone Cotner, Chair, lived in Washington DC for ten years prior to moving to the Pacific Northwest in 1983. Once here, Cotner served as President of the Mt. Baker Group, a fundraising and public affairs consulting company. As a consultant for 14 years, Cotner advised clients on fundraising strategy, and designed and supervised the implementation of both short term and long term fundraising plans to raise between $250,000 and $12 million. In 1997, she joined the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association, now the Washington State Association for Justice, which represents attorneys and professionals in the legal field committed to champion the cause of those who deserve redress for injury to person, property or civil rights. As the Development Director and now Deputy Director, she is responsible for the organization's major donor and special project fundraising efforts.
It would be nice to know who the Mt. Baker Group consulted for but I couldn't find that information. Although it's not listed in her FW bio, Suone Cotner is currently listed as a member of NARAL (formerly "National Abortion Rights Action League") Pro-Choice Washington's PAC Committee. This, arguably, ties her tightly to the Democratic Party establishment as the PAC gave 95.83% of its funds to Democratic party candidates in the 2008 election cycle. This is atypical in only one regard--usually Republicans don't get any of their PAC money. Cotner was also the "finance director" for Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) 1992 US Senate campaign.
  • Dean Nielsen, Vice President, is the National Political Director for Progressive Majority, a national organization that recruits, trains and elects progressive champions at the state and local levels. In this position, he directly manages state programs from coast-to-coast. Prior to being promoted, Dean served as Progressive Majority's Washington State Director, where he helped elect more than 100 candidates using Progressive Majority's innovate "farm team" program. After four elections, he held the highest candidate win rate in the organization. Dean is a career politico, having worked in various capacities on more than 250 campaigns throughout the Western United States and Eastern Europe starting with Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign. His lengthy client list includes Governor Gary Locke (WA), Solidarity Party (Poland), the Gore/Lieberman Campaign, as well as issue campaigns for groups such as EMILY's List, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, SEIU, Harborview Hospital and the Democratic Party in several states. In addition to campaigns, he helped build and expand a grassroots and grasstops lobbying program for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, conceived and launched the Institute for a Democratic Future, did qualitative research for several casinos in Las Vegas, and managed a crisis communications project for a Fortune 500 company.
Among other things, this bio blurb nicely establishes Nielsen's Democratic Party bona fides. Some non-trivial number of Democratic politicians in Congress and the Washington state legislature are folks Nielsen helped get into office. In addition to a PAC, Progressive Majority also runs a 527 organization aka "Stealth PAC" or "Silent Partner". Progressive Majority's 527 organization has allowed it to raise and spend millions of dollars for political campaigns, with minimal public oversight and disclosure. According to a 2008 report by the conservative Capital Research Center, Progressive Majority received at least $5 million in grants from the Democracy Alliance, which counts billionaire George Soros and millionaire Tim Gill as its major donors. Interestingly, Progressive Majority was founded by its current President, Gloria A. Totten, who's worked for NARAL in various capacities including as its Political Director NARAL from 1996-2001.
  • Adam Glickman-Flora, Treasurer, is Director of Public Affairs for SEIU Healthcare 775NW, the long-term care workers union representing 30,500 home care and nursing home workers in Washington and Montana. As director of Public Affairs he oversees SEIU Healthcare 775NW's political, legislative, community outreach, and media relations work. Adam grew up on the East Coast and became involved in labor and other social justice work while at Wesleyan University. After graduating, he worked in New York doing communications and political work, including as the Communications Director for New York's Working Families Party. He is married and has two wonderful children - Micah and Asher.
On the SEIU 775NW web site, Glickman-Flora is listed as the local's Vice-President, "serving a two year term 2011-2013". Apparently, this isn't Glickman-Flora's first term as 775NW's VP. Labor Notes Director Mark Brenner mentions Glickman-Flora in a June 2008 post. It's worth quoting from the relevant portion:
"Behind me in line was a blast from the past, Adam Glickman (now Adam Glickman-Flora) ... Now he is vice president of SEIU Local 775 (the number three spot). Something tells me he didn't move out to Washington state and start working as a homecare worker and rise up through the ranks to get there.

"This is something that we don't talk a lot about, but which is a big contradiction inside SEIU right now. Is it appropriate for staff to be members of the local and get elected into officer slots? How does that affect the union's functioning? Its priorities? How it handles the tough choices, like winning higher standards for current members versus securing organizing rights to bring unorganized workers into the union? Does it make sense for folks who have never had to live and work under the contracts they negotiate to be the key decision-makers sitting across the table from management?"

Apropos this last question, a commenter to Brenner's post under the name "Former 775 member" writes:

"I was a homecare worker. Now I work in a residential setting. I use to be active in SEIU775 but I felt that the leadership did not encourage the real 'workers' to be leaders. I couldn't stand being ignored. I eventually stopped doing homecare and worked with people with disablities in a residential and group home setting. This new agency that I worked was not unionized. After a few months of working there, SEIU had some 'organizer' attempt to unionize the agency's workers. She did not know the difference between what homecare workers did compare to those who worked in group homes and those who in residential settings. She did not know the training is different, the expectations are different, and most importantly she did not know you deal with very different clientele (e.g. their behaviors ranging from mild disruptions to having to call the police). She was incapable of understanding real issues concerning us and that's why we didn't want to be unionized."

In Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America's Promise (2006), author Robert Fitch devotes an entire chapter to SEIU entitled "Andy Stern's Dead Souls".

Andy Stern is the international President of SEIU and Fitch describes Stern as "openly disdainful of union democracy" and makes the case that SEIU is a top-down union structured along the lines of "the conservative organizational principles of former General Motors president Alfred P. Sloan" and headed by Ivy Leaguers who, to the rank-and-file's detriment, have mostly never done the kind of work the union's members do. Needless to say, SEIU is a major backer of Democratic Party candidates and spent $28 million to help put Barack Obama in the White House.
  • Sharon Smith, Secretary is a Partner at River Run ventures, which just completed a large-scale condominium building in downtown Spokane. For 25 years, Sharon Smith led national operations and marketing efforts for hotel brands such as Hilton, Doubletree and Red Lion Hotels. Sharon served as Chairwoman of the Spokane County Democrats in the 2005/6 election season leading to election victories unparalleled in Eastern Washington in decades.
Sharon Smith is a 1-percenter who gave away $19,400.00 to Democratic Party candidates in 2008 alone. In 2009, 22,090 Spokane households had annual incomes of less than $20,000, roughly the same amount that Smith spent on elections.

Smith's business partner in River Run Ventures is Don Barbieri, with whom Smith also shares a home. Barbieri ran for the US House of Representatives from Spokane in 2004. His Washington Post bio says: "In 1969, Barbieri returned to Spokane to join his father's company, later serving as its president and chief executive officer. The company became WestCoast Hospitality Corp., a hotel management company that bought the Red Lion hotel chain from the Hilton Corp., creating a group of more than 80 hotels in 14 states. Barbieri resigned as CEO and president in 2003, but remains as chairman of the board."

Sharon Smith is also the Executive Director and Treasurer of the Inland Northwest Leadership PAC. The PAC's mission "places special emphasis on candidates and initiatives that support a woman's right to choose and work to advance reproductive health education and freedoms". In other words, Democrats. The PAC's 2011 activities focused on the Spokane mayoral and city council races. Most of the largest donors to the PAC were labor unions with SEIU 775NW chipping in $5,000. The largest individual contributor was Don Barbieri, who gave a total of $3,000.

Now back to that "large-scale condominium building in downtown Spokane." The only condo project I could find linked to River Run Ventures is the 32-unit Upper Falls condominiums. An article in Spokane's Spokesman-Review described the development: "With upscale, spacious condos sold at prices from more than $500,000 to $1.5 million, Upper Falls is considered one of the area's most successful projects." The project was twice the object of litigation. "In 2005, Spokane attorney Steve Eugster filed a lawsuit alleging the city incorrectly sold parkland to the developer without a vote of the people; it was later dismissed." In 2008, a suit was filed by GVL Investors LLC, "alleging Barbieri and companies he owns overstated costs by more than $3 million to avoid sharing project profits."

And there you have it folks--the "progressive" officers of Fuse Washington--just a few of the the Big Money, Big Labor, and Democratic Party hacks trying to co-opt the Occupy Movement.

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