|Former Gov. Dan Evans|
|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.
John Buller, whose senior executive roles have ranged from higher education to sports to retailing to non-profits to community organizations, has experienced and helped reshape an array of cultures over the years since he arrived in Seattle to play basketball for the University of Washington.
And the immersion in those disparate cultures has led him to publish his second book, "Can You Survive the Age of Disruption," more than two decades and numerous disruptive involvements since his first book. "Survival Guide for Bureaucratic Warriors."
Buller prefers to describe his latest book as "a resource guide to creating the all-in culture," which he sums up as "all about outcomes that bring interpersonal skills that are collaborative in nature," although in his book he details elements needed to bring about an all-in culture.
"I have always been interested in leadership and culture building," Buller told me. "But I believe we are now experiencing a rate of change that demands a new way to look at how organizations manage the pace of this change."
"We are at a point where there are three generations in the work force at the same time," said Buller. "And within a few years we'll have four generations, and technology has now outpaced our ability to manage the rate of change."
Buller's first cultural "all-in" was college basketball, having been recruited in 1965 to come to UW. He led the freshman team in scoring and was sixth man, starting 10 games, in his sophomore year. But a viral inflamation in the heart lining impacted the rest of his playing career.
He spent two years as a graduate assistant for the Huskies while getting his MBA, then went to work for what was the Bon Marche, later Macy's,
Over the next two years and three promotions, he became divisional merchandise manager and eventually senior advertising and brand development executive. It was at The Bon where, he says, he had his favorite job.
"I was responsible for changing the 4,000 employees from a clerk mentality to a customer service mentality and I also got to do more than 40 two day team building workshops to support this cultural transformation.," Buller recalls.
The Bon experience led him to write "Survival Guide."
"Changing the culture at The Bon was an effort to focus on service, both to our customers and our internal attitudes toward our fellow employees," Buller explained. "The book was about my learning the difference between a 'Soldier,' someone who takes orders, and a 'Warrior,' one who has a mission or a cause. I learned how to be a Warrior."
He took the warrior attitude, and the details of building survival skills, to roles as co-chair and director of the organizing committee for the NCAA Final Four in Seattle in 1995, executive director of the UW Alumni Association, CEO of Tully's Coffee and CEO of the Seattle Police Foundation.
His non-profit leadership roles included chairing the board of Seattle Seafair and a dozen years on both the Seattle Center Board and the board of the Washington Athletic Club, where he currently serves as executive director of the 101 Club.
Buller chuckles as he explains his often used process of creating All-In by having the marketing and the accounting teams each put together a business plan for the company.
"As you might guess, there wasn't a lot of similarity between the two plans. So I'd leave the room and say 'I'll be back in 20 minutes. Fix it while I'm gone."
Buller suggests "organizational leaders seeking to create new cultures "are tasked with an almost impossible amount of required intelligences."
"Today's Leadership needs to be proficient in understanding the 'Meyers Briggs Profile' - knowing yourself and understanding others that was the intelligence lesson of the 1980s and early 90s - then, along came 'Emotional Intelligence,' which focused on street smarts vs. book smarts," Buller explained.
"Over the last 10 years you would have also needed to be competent in understanding the 'Social Media' explosion. Then, it helps if you have 'Ethnic Intelligence,' as well as 'Religious Intelligence', and 'Immigration Intelligence' - and now, the biggest new understanding is 'Generational Intelligence.'"
Discussion of changing culture in the workplace automatically includes focus on millennials, those in their twenties and early thirties. In addition to that generation's obviously adaptability to technology,
Buller suggests "they have a social consciousness and they don't want to work somewhere that doesn't fit that. They think broad workplace experience, meaning horizontal movement, is better. They are looking for the perfect culture and perfect outcome."
"If you don't believe the statement that if you can't change you're dead, look at what's occurred with the Fortune 500 over four decades," Buller says. "In 1975 the average age of the companies in that index was 68, now the average age is eight."
It's been five years this coming Memorial Day since the formal launch of the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration to honor those who fought in that war but were never thanked when they returned to a divided nation. And for four of those years, Joseph L. (Joe) Galloway, one of the best-known correspondents of that war, has been on the road doing interviews with veterans of that conflict to preserve their memories.
Galloway's travels to do the interviews, mostly about two hours in length and which he told me last week now number about 350, embody his commitment to produce the "the body of material for future generations who want to know what this war was all about."
Galloway, a UPI reporter decorated for battlefield heroism at the battle of Ia Drang 50 years ago last November, spent a week doing interviews in Seattle two years ago. Now he is returning to the Seattle area next month to do another round of interviews with Vietnam veterans.
I've written several columns on Galloway and his role in the 50th Anniversary Commemoration, partly because we were UPI colleagues (he in war zones and I as a political writer and later a Pacific Coast executive for the company). But more important in a broader sense because of a fascination with his perspectives on the war in articles and speeches, and the import of the battle in the Ia Drang Valley that Galloway and the late Gen. Hal Moore, then a lieutenant colonel in command of the U.S. army forces in that battle, made famous in their book and a subsequent movie.
Ia Drang was the first clash of American troops with North Vietnamese regular army and involved heavy fighting in two main engagements that claimed casualties in the hundreds on the U.S. side and several thousand on the North Vietnam side.
Galloway later described it as "The battle that convinced North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minhhe could win," a conclusion that it turns out was shared by then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara after he assessed details and the import of the Ia Drang battle. But McNamara's conclusion, shared with President Lyndon Johnson, never saw the light of day until years later.
The battle became the subject of Galloway's and Moore's book, "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young," and the resulting movie, "We Were Soldiers," as well as a second book, "We are Still Soldiers... A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam" when the two returned to the battlefield years later.
Galloway continued his correspondent role on into war in Iraq and Afghanistan and those who admired his work included the late General Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who referred to him as "the finest combat correspondent of our generation -- a Soldier's reporter and a Soldier's friend."
And of his time on the battlefield, particularly at Ia Drang, Galloway said: "The men I met and the time we spent together fighting for one another was a life-changing experience that transcends the bonds of friendship and brotherhood."
One of my first columns on Galloway dealt with my urging him to come to Seattle after I first learned, in October of 2014, about the commemoration and his role in it.
He told me he'd need a place to do the interviews so KCPQ-13 offered its studios for the week and Galloway became briefly a high-visibility figure in the area, including an interview at Seattle Rotary, as he helped the group of veterans who each spent an hour or more with him have the opportunity to share their memories. And also to accept the belated thank you that the attention represented.
Galloway's comments during his stay here and with the interviews themselves have also been Galloway's revisiting of his own memories of Vietnam.
During one of our interviews, Galloway said of the veterans: "They are not bitter but I am bitter in their behalf. It make me angry that those who came to hate the war came to hate the warriors who were their sons and daughters."
He's also shared his own emotions that accompanied other activities related to this trail through the commemoration events.
He told me of one occasion a couple of years ago where he and the governor of Kentucky shared the podium at an event for Vietnam veterans that was at the state capital at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which he described as "one of the most spectacular in our country."
"It is in the form of a giant sundial," he said. "Incredible work was done so that when the tip of the shadow from the sundial pointer hits the memorial floor it points to that day's list of Kentucky soldiers who were killed in action on that date in Vietnam."
"It brought tears to my eyes to see the pointer land on those KIA in the Ia Drang Valley in November 1965," he said.
The recent retirement of Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza as commanding officer of Joint Base Lewis McChord was a reminder of Galloway's last visit, and the coming one, since a commemoration Lanza put on as only the second such event at one of the nation's military bases preceded the Galloway visit by four months.
That high-visibility JBLM event in early October of 2014 was a Commemoration tribute that attracted more than 2,500 Vietnam veterans from around the Northwest onto the parade field for a salute ceremony, massing of the colors and Keynote speech by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey.
Lanza had said he noticed that Vietnam Era veterans were among those enthusiastically welcoming soldiers home from deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he realized of the Vietnam veterans: "they had never had that" welcome-home reception so he helped create a thank you opportunity.
Galloway's visit May 22-25 for interviews with the veterans will include a Vietnam War panel discussion at Shoreline College with Bruce Crandall, the helicopter pilot and Medal of Honor recipient from the Ia Drang battle whose exploits were detailed in the book and the movie, and former POW Joe Crecca, along with Galloway himself.
My most recent column on Galloway was in mid-February, the outgrowth of an email from him about the "hard duty" he had of delivering a eulogy for General Moore, the Ia Drang commander and his friend of 50 years, who had died that week two days before his 95th birthday.