A marketing study conducted over a 2-year period identified 60 cities in the USA and Canada that have the fan support and financially stable potential ownership groups to sustain professional basketball in each of those areas.
|Dr. Paul Lange|
|Dr. Daniel Lin|
|Dr. Pete Nelson|
When William (Bill) Ruckelshaus, a Watergate "hero" who knows a bit about how to deal with presidents, offered some advice in a nationally syndicated column to President Donald Trump, it set me searching for a column I did on him six years ago in which he derided "this era of inflamed partisanship and ideology."
Ruckelshaus, who served two presidents as head of the Environmental Protection Agency and was talked about as a vice presidential candidate for another, was the email interview for a recent Bloomberg column in which he offered "there is only one person who can shut down all the current speculation" surrounding the Trump administration.
How the President reacts to the advice "to turn over all the information he has and instruct his minions to do the same" is fodder for someone else's column. This Harp is about the thoughts he shared in late 2011 about the attacks on the EPA.
But almost equally compelling was his recollection of the time, despite the accusations then surrounding a president who was eventually forced to resign, when Congress functioned with an inter-party cooperation impossible to imagine now.
Ruckelshaus, since moving his family to Seattle in 1975 to become vice president of legal affairs for The Weyerhauser Co., has been a prominent business figure in the Seattle area, including as a principal in the Madrona Investment Group. He was honored as a Laureate of the Puget Sound Business Hall of Fame.
In our interview six years ago, there was a detectable sense of both disappointment and frustration in his voice as discussed what he termed the "most violent anti-environment rhetoric in recent memory coming from Congress" in attacks on the EPA.
As evidence of frustration, Ruckelshaus said "recent attacks are particularly mindless because they give no credence to the original bipartisan support for the creation of EPA," which came into being by executive order of Republican President Richard Nixon in December of 1970."
"It was at a time of public outcry that visible air pollution and flammable rivers were not acceptable," Ruckelshaus recalls. "And as EPA was being established, the Congress passed the Clean Air Act in a burst of non-partisan agreement: 73-0 in the Senate and 374-1 in the House."
It's difficult, in this era of what he calls "inflamed partisanship and ideology" to even imagine there was a time when such agreement between political parties and both houses of Congress could occur on any issue.
The fact that Congress could with virtual unanimity approve what obviously was legislation that assumedly made some members uncomfortable would be viewed as "historical fiction," or maybe "Fake History" by some political ideologues today.
Ruckelshaus was named by Nixon to be the EPA's first administrator, then was called back by President Ronald Reagan, to be the agency's fifth administrator. His name has become synonymous with environmental protection, which doesn't mean he's always defended the tactics or decisions of those engaged in protecting the environment.
For example, he acknowledged in our interview that "it's important to be careful about what power you give government and government hasbe careful about how it exercise that power." He suggested it's "almost a given that abuses will occur," but posed the question: "What's preferable, the possibility of abuses that must be reined in, or no rules? In order to provide the framework in which freedom can function, you have to have rules."
A sense of disappointment is evidenced in his reaction to what's evolved over four decades of the public's attitudes toward the EPA and environmental oversight. In a memorable speech some years ago as he accepted a national environmental award, Ruckelshaus characterized the public's, and thus Congress', view of environmental initiatives as "violent swings of the pendulum."
Ruckelshaus, now 84. has to be a disquieting persona for those engaged in what he refers to as "virulent" and "mindless" attacks on that agency.
After all, Ruckelshaus has impeccable Republican and business credentials, making it difficult for those seeking to dismantle the agency he guided to characterize him as a crazy environmentalist seeking to punish businesses and destroy jobs.
His Watergate role came about when he resigned from Nixon's Justice Department in 1973 rather than accept the President's order to fire Watergate special counsel Archibald Cox hours after the Attorney General Elliott Richardson was fired by the President for refusing to fire Cox.
Ruckelshaus was the 29-year-old Republican legislative leader in his home state of Indiana before he came to prominence in the Nixon Administration.
Those who have grown tired of the dysfunctional nature of verbal rifle shots that have replaced Congressional debate might wish there was something at the national level like the William D. Ruckelshaus Center in Seattle.
The mission of the center is to act as a neutral resource for collaborative problem-solving in the Northwest, providing expertise to improve "the quality and availability of voluntary collaborative approaches for policy development and multi-party dispute resolution."
For anyone inclined to dismiss the wording of the mission as "policy-wonk" speak, it should be noted that the center has successfully brought together parties to build consensus on a range of issues, perhaps most dramatically the Agriculture and Critical Areas Project.
The landmark three-plus year effort aimed at preserving the viability of agricultural lands dealt with the issue of how to control farmland runoff without destroying the prosperity of farmers, a development that has unfortunately received little visibility.
The center brought all groups, including environmentalists, farmers, tribes and local counties, to negotiate an agreement that was approved by the 2011 Legislature.
The Center is hosted at the University of Washington at the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs and at Washington State University by WSU Extension. It is guided by an advisory board of prominent local, state and regional leaders representing a broad range of constituencies and geographic locations. The board is chaired by Ruckelshaus.
|Former Gov. Dan Evans|
The Seattle Port Commission's airing of the decision by the Port of Seattle staff not to renew the airport lease of Ivar's seafood chain left the port staff looking a little like the baseball team that sent a minor league pitcher to face the leading home run hitter. Bad news ahead.
And unless the port has become an organization of people too new to understand the game, they have to be aware that bad news in the form of community pushback is what awaits if they throw the pitch, which in this case is tossing Ivar's Fish Bar out of the ranks of airport concessionaires.
The heavy hitter, partly because of the iconic restaurant chain he heads and partly because of the community support this issue generated going into the port commission's regular meeting Tuesday, was Ivar's president Bob Donegan. A generally congenial and friendly guy, Donegan leveled a withering indictment of the selection process by which the port's staff decided not to have Ivar's continue to operate the spot it has held in the central terminal since 2005.
Among Donegan's summary comments, each or which included details was that the process was flawed, the interview was "a sham," the evaluation panel "was simply not qualified" and the "scoring was seriously flawed."
Amid demonstration of support for Ivar's, including delivery of a stack of 7,600 supportive emails stacked on a wagon that Ivar's shift manager Lisa Bray wheeled in, the port commission upheld the decision of port staff.
That was in spite of the fact that a few days before the commission's meeting, Port Commissioner Stephanie Bowman said protest mechanisms created by port staff for companies that lose bids for airport concessions are flawed.
And although Bowman supported the staff's decision, her comments about the appeal process are likely to help fuel community indignation that may well congeal in the days ahead.
Bowman was quoted as saying "The protest procedure designed by port staff does not meet the standards I have for fairness and transparency, which is frustrating for those who were not winning bidders, and an unacceptable gap in the competitive process."
The phrases that were offered by prominent people in the business community I talked with in preparing this column were "legacy" and "community interest." And it's those thoughts that are likely to fuel community discussion of the port's decision and the process in the coming days.
"I couldn't believe it," was the first reaction from retired Port of Seattle executive Don Lorentz, who guided the port's commerce and trade development operations, basically its overseas activity.
"The port in many ways is run as a business, but it's not a business, it's there for community interest as well," Lorentz said.
In fact, the port is a government agency created by the voters of King County and supported by residents of the county, whose $72 million property tax levy this year represents about 11 percent of the Port's $620 million budget.
Lorentz noted that even though the ferry service changed the company that operates its food services, "they made it clear they are still going to have Ivar's clam chowder."
One of the points made to me in interviews was that perhaps the airport of a city, even an international city like Seattle, should strive to give visitors a flavor of the place where they are arriving by providing "legacy" status to certain airport vendors.
"The airport is a local experience for those who come here and the vendors should reflect the flavor of the area," one suggested. "Ivar's is a wonderful example of Seattle legacy and once a legacy is lost, it won't come back and it's our job to guard against that."
The port commission should ensure there is a provision in the vendor vetting process for legacy vendors, when in fact there's almost a penalty factor since a key to the criteria points is being a small, new business.
The port commission, which apparently is already considering changes to the evaluation process for the next round of bids, has its next regular meeting June 27, and the process for those 12 restaurant spaces that go up for bid this summer could be altered to improve shortcomings.
One change would seem to be creating greater transparency, since Donegan told me "when they sent us the 10 pages of written comment and numbers that were our scoring criteria, I asked if we could see the evaluation of the others and they said we could if we would sign a release that included no protest."
I asked Donegan if Ivar's could bid on one of those 12 upcoming and he said, "Yes, we could, but unless the port changes the scoring criteria, it's hard for me to see how there'd be any different outcome."
Removals of Robert E. Lee's statue in New Orleans and a Confederate monument in Louisville were designed to pluck from prominent display the symbols of that dark chapter of American history represented by the War Between the States over slavery. Meanwhile, a hemisphere away, descendants of Confederates who emigrated to Brazil after the Civil War were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of their ancestors in what would be their new country.
Perhaps proving that history is too complex to be rewritten or expunged, the celebratory gathering of some 2,600 confederate descendants at their annual picnic at Cemeterio do Campo, the cemetery where hundreds of "Confederados" are buried, included the continuing honoring of their flag, the Stars and Bars.
The story of the Confederates, hailing mostly from Georgia, Alabama and Texas but with every state represented and amounting to the largest emigration in U.S. history, doesn't get attention in books on American history.
And the fact that the more than 20,000 southerners wanted to preserve the ways of the unreconstructed South, but didn't wish to bring with them the institution of Slavery, may merit some interest from historians unless the effort that some see as seeking to sanitize history is successful.
However, My friend Gary Neeleman, who with his wife, Rose, was at the cemetery for the 150th event, has published the definitive story of that slice of American history and was there to take orders for his book, recently published in Portuguese but with discussions under way with a U.S. publisher for an English version.
The title's English translation, "The Migration of the Confederates to Brazil: Stars and Bars Under the Southern Cross," is the account of how Brazilian Emperor Don Pedeo II successfully sought to attract the Southerners who didn't wish to be restored to U.S. citizenry.
The Brazilian government set up informational agencies across the Bible Belt and offered to pay relocation costs for all Americans willing to make the move. The first arrivers were met at the dock by the Emperor, who welcomed them to their new home.
The emperor's goal was to plant the seeds of Brazilian prosperity, including creating a cotton industry, by importing the self-exiling Southerners, who settled southwest of Sao Paulo in two communities a couple of miles apart, Americana and Santa Bárbara d'Oeste.
Neeleman, a longtime colleague at UPI and a friend of 45 years, who has been the subject of several Harps over the years, first visited the cemetery in 1963 as UPI's Brazil manager. The idea for a book began to take shape on that first visit.
Neeleman, now a robust 82, has made more than a dozen trips to the cemetery since then, often with Rose, as they gathered information from descendants and collected photos from them.
Because of his close ties to Brazil, and his official role as Brazilian Consul in Salt Lake City, Neeleman is sometimes asked to take guests to the annual gathering at the cemetery.
Thus a few years ago, he escorted former president Jimmy Carter and his wife, Roselyn, and presidential press secretary Jody Powell and told me, "It touched your heart to see their tears as they looked over the Georgia graves and 'Dixie' was played."
"That first time I visited the cemetery, driving out in my '49 Hudson Hornet, I was shocked at the extent to which these people were still entrenched with their history," he recalled.
"The stars and bars of the Confederate battle flag is visible everywhere but it's important to know that wasn't the flag of the Confederacy. Rather they look upon the flag that was carried into battle during the civil war as the symbol of their states' rights," he added.
Among the interesting bits of information in Neeleman's book is that not only did those descendants reject the opportunity to have slaves in Brazil, where slavery remained prominent at the time, but at least one former slave came along.
"A black woman named Sylvia, a free woman, insisted she wanted to remain with the family for which she had been a slave and so she accompanied them to Brazil," Neeleman said.
Neeleman details the contributions the Confederate descendants made to their new nation, including helping make Brazil a leading cotton exporter, as the emperor had hoped.
"MacKenzie College was founded by the confederates in Sao Paulo and, with five campuses around the country, it is one of the top colleges in Latin America," he said.
"And a second-generation Confederate founded the big hospital in Sao Paulo, Samaritano Hospital, where three of our kids were born," he added. One of those was David, who founded Jet Blue and is now CEO of Azul, one of the largest airlines in Brazil.
"People in the United States consider that Confederate battle flag the symbol of slavery but for these people, it's a symbol of their ancestors' way of life," Neeleman said, noting that "not only are the flags prominently displayed on the graves, but some insist their caskets be wrapped in the flag."
The highlight of this 150th anniversary picnic, Neeleman told me, was when the American and Brazilian flags were raised, along with the Stars and Bars, over the gathering of some 2,600 attendees, and the "Star Spangled Banner" was played along with "Dixie." A parade included the great great grandchildren of the original southerners carrying the flags of the 13 states of the confederacy.
Perhaps to touch lightly on the effort to expunge things Confederate from U.S. awareness, Neeleman observed that when the band at the cemetery struck up Dixie, "it was reminiscent of when Abraham Lincoln faced the crowds after the victory of the North over the South, and people thought he was going to give a victory speech. Instead he turned to the band and ask them to play Dixie."
The visit to the cemetery was part of a challenging week for the Neelemans, with three stops in Brazil to promote the book on the Confederates and a trip back home to UCLA to be recognized by the Brazilian studies department for his third book, Rubber Soldiers, just published this month in English about Brazil's key role in World War II (see Flynn's Harp: Rubber Soldiers).
"Even some of the people from Brazil studying there said they hadn't been aware of the role their nation played, in sending thousands of their countrymen into the jungles to restore the rubber harvest to producet the rubber without which the allies might not have been able to wage war against the Axis powers," Neeleman told me.
Bellevue's role as a growing center for the sport of squash was enhanced last weekend as the quest of the best players in the world for a share of the most lucrative 16-man squash tournament purse ever had the attention of the squash-world, but with unfortunately little local attention or support.
Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, currently World Number 1 in the sport, won the title and accompanying $25,000, defeating Egyptian Ali Farag in a tournament that added to the image of Shabana Khan as one of the sport's emerging star promoters. Her YSK Events put on the tournament.
With $150,000 in prize money on the table, the PMI Bellevue Squash Classic was appropriately staged as a sort of coming-out party for the Boys & Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House just north of Downtown Bellevue.
When she put on the Men's World Squash Championship in late 2015, first time ever for the event on U.S. soil, Shabana charted new territory for prize money, which totaled $325,000 for the event that was held at Bellevue's Meydenbauer Center. That amount became the threshold going forward with the U.S. Open in Philadelphia next fall boasting a $350,000 purse.
I was struck by the fact that when you watch the speed, agility and athleticism of the top squash ccompetitor and reflect on the comparative talents needed for other racket sports, it's hard not to ask "why is tennis played everywhere and squash isn't?"
I posed that question to Shabana's older brother, Azam, four times a member of the U.S. Open team, and he said: "Tennis courts are everywhere and available to all while squash courts are in clubs and available only to the elite, but we intend to change that and it's one of Shabana's goals."
In fact, statistics on the sport indicate it is growing faster in this country than anywhere in the world, with the U.K. and Egypt following close behind.
For those on hand for the 2015 Men's World Championships, there was a bit of déjà vu since Gaultier defeated an Egyptian in that year's final to win his first World title after losing the in the final match three previous years.
Only a few in the inner circle of those helping Shabana with the event were aware that had it not been for the assist from Robert Greczanik, whom Asam Khan describes as "specializing in restoring injured athletes to full enhanced function," to help overcome an ankle injury that Gaultier feared would keep him out of the finals.
As an aside, Gaultier had turned to Greczanik, who runs Energetic Sports Lab in Bellevue, prior to the 2015 finals to address the fact he simply felt "all beat up with numerous injuries."
Squash players from around the world who were on hand for both events praised the Boys & Girls Club as far more appealing for players and fans, particularly for the interaction between them, than Meydenbauer, which incidentally had rejected her effort to hold this year's event there, telling her to look elsewhere.
And the community supporters of the Hidden Valley club must have been pleased to see its visibility on the global squash stage with thousands subscribing to the television coverage.
Players from 17 nations were on hand, but Shabana made it 18, using what's called a "wild card" for promoters of squash events, to let a young player from Connecticut compete to make sure the U.S. was represented.
Leading the as-yet small group of believers in what Shabana's squash initiatives are intended to mean for the Bellevue community's image and the opportunity she seeks to bring to the city's and region's young people was Dave Cutler. He is not only universally acclaimed as the key technical brain behind the Microsoft Windows NT and all the subsequent windows versions. A decade ago he was recognized as a National Medal of Technology and Innovation laureate, perhaps the most prestigious honor in the country for developers of new technology.
His support, and the fact that dozens, if not hundreds, of Microsofties who cross the street from the company's Redmond campus to play at the Pro Sports Club where Shabana, Asam and Latasha are instructors helped guide Microsoft into the Presenting sponsorship with Pro Sports as the Official sponsor.
Pacific Market International, a Seattle-based brand and product-marketing company with offices in seven cities around the world, has been a strong supporter of both this five-day event and of the 2015 Men's Championship as title sponsor.
Richard and Jackie Lange, Woodinville residents, stepped up as a family after Shabana created a national tournament for young squash players called the National Gold Tournament that attracted 175 young people from around the country to compete in groups broken down as under 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19. Shabana notes that 20 college coaches looked on for the older players' matches at the event held earlier this spring, also at the Boys & Girls Club.
The Langes, whose daughter, Kristin, played squash at Penn and was a three-time intercollegiate finalist, put up the money for five years of having the youth competition be "The Lange Showcase," sharing Shabana's vision of making squash available to young people of all ages and means.
Khan is the most famous last name in squash. Distant cousins Hasim and his son Sharif, and cousin Jahangir, dominated world squash for decades.
Yusuf Khan 10-time all-India champion, emigrated to the U.S. in 1968 to teach tennis at the Seattle Tennis Club, bringing with him his family that then included children Asam and Shabana. Khan soon after arrival in Seattle created the Seattle Athletic Club and made it a focal point for squash in Seattle.
Shabana's younger sister, Latasha, was several time national women's champion before losing the title to Shabana, providing me the opportunity to joke in an earlier column, "best in the family is best in the county."
The looming reality for this unique local event is that Shabana and her supporting family have basically given themselves only a couple of months to decide whether it's worth the struggle (the event basically broke even this year) to attract thus-far absent support from either the City of Bellevue or local businesses.