Log in
updated 10:27 PM CDT, Sep 8, 2016

FlynnsHarp logo 042016

Seattle City Council proponents of income tax need to 'come clean'

incometax
Members of the Seattle City Council who are proposing a tax on the gross income of Seattle residents they view as "the wealthy" need to come clean with those constituents who are actually hoping for additional revenue to deal with what they perceive as pressing city problems. "Come clean" means admitting up front that this won't provide additional revenue for the city to deal with any of those issues, including the homeless problem.
 
The reason is that if the city council actually approves an income tax, suggested as 2 percent tax on the portion of gross exceeding $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a couple, it will be challenged in court, without question. The court case would then have to run its course, and the outcome be in Seattle's favor, before any tax could be imposed or revenue collected, several years at least.
 
In fact, "come clean" would also mean admitting that a court challenge is really why proponents and the City Council are seeking to pass an income tax because those in favor of such a tax have become convinced that the ruling of the state Supreme Court in 1933 that an income tax is unconstitutional might well be reversed.
 
The Seattle income tax proposal got its airing before a hearing of the City Council Finance Committee, derided by one business leader as "a pep rally for a tax on the rich," and in fact supporters attended the meeting waving "Tax the Rich" signs.
 
One friend suggested, with a chuckle, that he was surprised Kshama Sawant, one of two city council sponsors of the income tax plan, didn't have a rag doll tagged "rich guy" that she could have used to bring cheers by turning it upside down, holding the heels and shaking as if to dislodge anything in the pockets.
 
Former Gov. Dan Evans
Former governor and U.S. Senator Dan Evans, who is probably this state's most visible long-term proponent of a state income tax, told me in an email "I think the Seattle income tax attempt is wrong on so many counts that it is hard to try to analyze. This is just soak-the-rich taxation by the left wing."
Evans noted that his plan, which actually made the ballot but was rejected by state voters, "was tax reform with an income tax as part of it," repeating his oft emphasized belief that a net income tax only is legitimate if it is part of a full reform of the state's tax structure.
"Trying to institute a city tax without a vote of the people is even dumber than thinking of imposing a tax on gross income," he said. "People always get a vote on issues like his. Ultimately the people of the state will decide this issue through their vote and attempts to circumvent that are recognition that they can't win a statewide vote."
Indeed The pursuit of a way to get the Supreme Court to review the eight decades old precedent is based on the realization that the voters of the state don't seem likely to approve an income tax. And those who don't want the voters to continue to have the final say on the issue are hoping to find a way around that continued outcome.
 
But the reality may be that a Seattle test of the existing constitutional ban on an income tax may leave proponents simply disappointed, rather than finding a backdoor way to undo the longtime prohibition.
 
When the Olympia City Council sought to imposed a tax on incomes above $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for couples, lawmakers in the Capital City took the approach of asking the voters, rather than telling them. Voters turned it down.
 
But legal scholar Hugh Spitzer, who is generally seen as the legal expert approached for comment on the issue in this state, offered the comment before the Olympia vote that proponents of using a locally enacted income tax as the key to a court reversal of the 84 year old decision would likely be disappointed.

Spitzer, who understood the Olympia proposal was meant as a "test case" seeking to address the constitutionality of the state's ban, predicted that a court will rule that code cities such as Olympia (or Seattle) can't tax individual income, avoiding the constitutional issue.

In fact, some Republicans in the Legislature sought to remove any Supreme Court action with a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would specifically prohibit an income tax.
 
Rep. Matt Manweller, the Ellensburg Republican who was a key proponent of the proposed amendment that never even got to a vote this session, noted that while voters "have been saying 'no' to an income tax for about 80 years, the shift seems to be from ballot measures to finding a sympathetic court."
 
Voters in 2010 had an opportunity to pass Initiative 1098 that would have imposed a statewide tax on the net of high-income earners and reduced property taxes and business and occupation taxes. The measure passed in Seattle, but failed across the rest of the state.
 
The perhaps intriguing thing about the history of losses at the ballot is that the one time voters approved an income tax, and did so by a pretty healthy margin, was in 1932 with an initiative okaying a personal and corporate income tax. That was the measure that was overturned by the State Supreme Court in 1933.
 
Continue reading

Ivar's support in Seattle Port decision - suggests need for 'legacy' role

KeepIvars.com

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.

ivarsSupportEmailsThe 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."

 

Continue reading
Tags:

Two friends embarked on write-a-book path to success

Two friends embarked on write-a-book path to success

 

It's been satisfying to watch two close friends be among those seizing the opportunity that the era of self-publishing has offered entrepreneurs to seek the financial reward or personal satisfaction of writing a book about their business. 
Teri Citterman 
The first is Teri Citterman, who worked for me a decade ago and whose book, From the CEO's Perspective: Leadership in Their Own Words, was published almost three years ago as the collection of interviews with 20 CEOs, all from different industries, each among the most recognized in his or her field.

The other is Al Davis, a friend and former longtime client, who is a founder of Revitalization Partners, a Seattle-based business management and advisory firm whose business footprint has spread across the
Al Davis 
West Coast.

His book, written with partner Bill Lawrence, is
Insights to Grow, Build or Save Your Business!: Highly Successful Business Advisory Consultants Share Their Uncommon Advice For Common Business Situations. It is a selection from the columns they've written over the past three years. 
                                                
As a retired publisher and the writer of a weekly email column for the past nine years, I've found a growing number of friends wanting to explore the possibilities of column or book. And in some cases I've encouraged them or offered to provide some guidance.

In fact, I've come to believe, and espouse, that business people with experiences from which others could benefit ought to seriously consider doing a regular column, as email or web blog, either to just share insights or as the first step toward a book.

I had a forgettable bit part in the production of Citterman's book. She asked me if I would introduce her to two of the CEOs she wished to meet to interview and I declined, not being aware at the time of the positive impact she would have on the CEOs she interviewed or the quality of the pieces that she would produce for the book.

As it turned out, she reached out to the two CEOs on her own and both have become her friends and admirers of her work and her interview ability, along with the 18 others she interviewed to create her book.

When she had a debut party for the book, she asked me to say a few words on her behalf and I joked to those on hand that one of the reasons she was successful with the book was that she had paid no attention to me.

In Davis' case, it was a series of conversations in which I urged him to do a column and advised him how to go about it that resulted in a bi-weekly column over the past three years, then the book, which is a collection of the columns grouped by subject.

I learned of Davis' book in amusing fashion, being summoned to the Fairmont Hotel table where mutual friend Mike Kunath gathers friends and associates most afternoons to discuss an array of topics and where Davis was waiting to hand me his newly published book. He told me to open the cover and read what was printed on the facing page, which was a thank you to several people, and to me for convincing him he could write a column!

Citterman had already been doing some executive coaching and told me she was "hearing a common theme from CEOs. They were wondering, not WHO are the next generation of leaders, but WHERE are the next generation of leaders."

She says she then came across research that said nearly 60 percent of U. S .companies face a leadership talent shortage.

"So, I got curious and started asking my clients and other CEOs more questions ,which lead to an amazing amount of wisdom and insight, that I wanted to share with others," she explained. "Thus the book."

When I asked her what role the book plays in her business, she said: "The book is the air I breathe. It is the platform for my entire business."

Citterman has proven to be a successful entrepreneur as well as writer, since in addition to coaching CEOs and their executive teams, she has created what she calls a "forum series called 'From the CEO's Perspective.' Every quarter I moderate a conversation with three CEOs discussing whatever leadership topic I think is most pressing," she explained.

And Citterman, who was selected last year to be a member of the prestigious Forbes Coaches Council, is creating this fall "an exclusive, invite-only Leadership Lab to help newer executives elevate their thinking from the CEO's perspective."

When I asked Davis about the blog that led to the book, he said: "it was started as a business development tool. But as we found more things to write about, it became a way to use the wide experience that we had in business and finance to give something back to the business community, especially owners and managers of small and mid-sized companies."

"One of our biggest issues with our clients and potential clients is that they often wait until it's too late or almost too late before they talk with someone," Davis explained. "We hope that this book will demonstrate that they are not alone in their problem and there is someone to talk with about the seriousness of the problem."

The meeting with Davis and Kunath, who does his own occasional blog on personal experiences and perspectives (and who gets credit for first introducing me to Citterman 15 years ago or so), wound up with : "Now it's your turn to write a book."

So with some 470 Harps to choose from, I've decided to explore the possibility of collecting some in a book. Although the Harps were never meant to be anything other than an outlet to share information on interesting people, companies and issues, it has developed a business aspect as I get increasing number of outreaches from people who would like to explore doing their own email column or blog and want guidance on how to go about it.

And should a book of Harps emerge, I doubt anyone would be more pleased than a Spokane friend, Kate Spencer, a media person with the Spokane Club. A decade ago when I was evaluating the idea of creating a column and discussed it with her, she said: "You should call it Flynn's Harp, since the Harp is such a beautiful Irish instrument and if you wish to rag -or Harp-- on someone or something, it will be appropriate. So the name was instantly set that day.

And since Spencer has now written a book herself about life experiences, she frequently has followed our conversations about what might come from the growing number of columns with a firm: "Write the damn book!"
  

 

Continue reading

Event marks 150th anniversary of Confederate emigration to Brazil

Event marks 150th anniversary of Confederate emigration to Brazil
96 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

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.Gary and Rose Neeleman with their book on Brazilian Confederates

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).

96 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

"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.

Continue reading

National squash event in Bellevue drew world's best

National squash event in Bellevue drew world's best

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.Shabana Khan

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.

Continue reading

Seattle mayor race may offer business hope for future

Seattle mayor race may offer business hope for future
Soon after Mike McGinn took office as Seattle's new mayor in 2009, he was speaker at a business breakfast and was overheard telling an aide as he was sitting at the head table waiting to be introduced, "these are not my people."

Those in the business community soon came to understand McGinn wasn't their "people" either and sought to help support the election of Ed Murray, the longtime legislative leader who ran against and ousted McGinn in 2013.

But Murray turned out to be only marginally better for business and his only bow to the needs of the business community was a frequent refrain as his term progressed that he'd be open to help business "but business can't tell me what they need." And he spent little time reaching out to business leaders to find out.

Now Murray, driven to end his re-election bid amidst the growing furor over law suits contending he had sexually preyed on troubled young men years ago, leaves Seattle entering a time of uncertainty as the contest for a new mayor begins.

No one takes pleasure in Murray's travails. But the fact remains that as Seattle prepares to find a new mayor and business people began discussing how to seek to take advantage of the opportunity to find a business friend, a candidate that most feel at least understands both business and the political process has filed to seek the office.

That's former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, a woman of power and influence in Democratic party ranks but viewed by most business people as a throwback to a time when "liberal" included being a Democrat who understood the importance of the business community to a vibrant city.

Among those happy to see Durkan in the race is Bob Wallace, CEO of Bellevue-based Wallace Properties. When I called to talk to him about the Seattle political scene leading up to Durkan's announcement of her candidacy, he quipped: "I told Kemper (Freeman) that he should send a big bouquet to the Seattle City Council for all they are doing to make Bellevue look good to business."

Of Durkan, Wallace said "I'm pleased to see her decide to run. She is liberal, smart and pragmatic and she'd be an infinitely better mayor than any of the others in the race."

Wallace, although a conservative Bellevue business leader, has made a point over the years to also immerse himself in Seattle's business leadership, serving in key roles in both the Seattle and the Bellevue chambers of commerce.

Wallace says that although what he views as the "drift to the far left" by Seattle's elected leaders is "potentially jeopardizing our economic future," he suggests that "Seattle's major companies could care less" because Seattle represents only a small part of their business empires.

But smaller businesses do care and the growing contrast between the apparent attitudes of Seattle and Bellevue elected officials toward business needs is being increasingly noted. A friend of mine is launching a new business with offices in Seattle and Bellevue and told me that "many of the Eastside people we are hiring wouldn't be coming to work for us if we didn't have a Bellevue office because they simply don't want to have to get into Seattle each day."

It's important for Seattle business leaders enthused about Durkan's candidacy not to talk of her as pro business because that's not only possibly inaccurate but for sure potentially damaging to her candidacy in a community where that's obviously a negative for many Seattle voters.

The key is that she certainly brings an understanding of business, how it operates and its legitimate role in the success and future of Seattle.

Durkan wouldn't be the first Seattle woman mayor. That role belonged to Bertha Knight Landis, elected to a two-year term in 1927, having been the first woman elected to the Seattle City Council five years earlier and becoming president of the council when re-elected two years later.

Business became her fan, incidentally, before she won elective office when she orchestrated a weeklong Women's Educational Exhibit for Washington Manufacturers. Staffed by more than 1,000 women, that bolstered the spirits of the business community during a period of severe recession.

Landis defeated incumbent Edwin J, "Doc" Brown in 1927 in a campaign in which her theme was "municipal housecleaning" was needed in the Seattle government, an approach that could appeal to moderates on the left this year.

One issue that's already certain to be a mayoral campaign issue on which all these seeking the office will be pressed to explain their positions is the proposed city income tax on higher-income individuals. Most announced mayoral candidates at the first mayoral forum, prior to Durkan's announcement, expressed support for an income tax. In fact the idea was proposed by McGinn, who is seeking to regain the mayor's office.

Candidate positions on the effort to impose an income tax of unspecified amount on high-income individuals, with no clear indication of the definition of "high income," will be interesting to watch take shape during the campaign leading up to the August primary when the top two vote-getters will move on to the November general election.

Seattle is the second stop by the supporters of a state income tax who have embarked on a process observers have described as "city shopping," looking for a local electorate or elected body willing to impose an income tax to get the issue before the state supreme court. Olympia voters rejected the idea in November.

Only the uninformed could fail to realize no income tax is going to be imposed in Seattle for the foreseeable future so it can't provide revenue for the city that proponents say is needed now.

Rather the hope for a court test is that the 5-4 majority decision by the State's highest court in 1932 that an income tax was unconstitutional would be reversed by a far more liberal court 85 years later.

But the fact that the 1984 legislature outlawed a local income tax imposed by cities or counties means a first court test would be about state law rather than the constitutionality of an income tax.

As for Durkan's view on the issue, she quickly debunked the idea at her announcement news conference, saying a city income tax is "probably not constitutional," and in addition she thinks it's "not be the solution we need now."


Continue reading

McWilliams, key to Irish peace pact, now touts women's role in ending warfare

McWilliams, key to Irish peace pact, now
touts women's role in ending warfare

15.00

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

Monica McWilliams, who played a key role in negotiating the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and was the only woman to sign the pact that ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland, never brought the idea of compromise to any negotiations.

    Monica McWilliams
"Compromise is a weak word," she told me in an interview recently in Seattle, where she was visiting for the first time to appear at a fundraising event for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Fund.

"The word to use with those in conflict that you are trying to bring to the table to talk with each other isn't compromise, it's 'accommodation,'" McWilliams said. "When you say to those who refuse to compromise with their enemy 'but you understand we need to reach some accommodation with these people if we are going to end the fighting,' there is always at least a grudging agreement to accommodate each other's views somehow to settle the conflict."

RoseMarie FitzSimons 
The Seattle visit was arranged by Microsoft alum RoseMarie FitzSimons, now an Irish filmmaker who still retains a home in Seattle, which she visits from Ireland several times a year. But she has mostly been on the road for months, following McWilliams on her travels to countries in turmoil around the world.

Thus this column is to focus attention on the efforts of
two Irish women who have sought to create a political future that includes the voice of women in peace negotiations that inevitably emerge in war-torn regions.   
One is McWilliams, raised in Northern Ireland, who was a leader among women who saw an opportunity to break what they viewed as the closed circle of male power that had dominated Northern Ireland politics for years and to create a new political future that included the voices of women. She hopes to create a process to end bloody contests not just in her native nation but in disputes around the globe.

The other, FitzSimons, a woman who grew up in the Irish Republic 70 miles from the border but saw "the violence happen every day in my backyard." She is directing her film-making talents to bring McWilliams' story and the changes she has brought about to a broad audience.

FitzSimons said part of the impetus for documenting the role McWilliams has played is "the archaic mindset of those in politics, the arrogance and attitudes that prevailed in patriarchal Northern Ireland at the time, that saw neither the value nor importance of women participating in the peace talks."
"Some of the men gathered for the talks made comments like "the only table women should be at is the one they're going to polish," FitzSimons told me. "Sectarian and sexist insults were common. Comments like the women 'should stay at home and breed for Ulster,' or that their place was to 'stand behind the loyal men of Ulster', at which point McWilliams and her colleagues stood up and started to sing 'Stand By Your Man.'"   
It was the women of Northern Ireland who pressed the men to the negotiating table when they said, basically, "we don't want to be a country that is made up of widows so this has to stop."

Being reminded of that point prompted McWilliams to tell me: "women are always involved in working the community silently so they merely get a footnote in the history of conflicts. Less than 4 percent of peace agreements have women signators."

McWilliams already had a tie to Seattle, in addition to working closely with FitzSimons, because it was she who brought Boston police commissioner, now Seattle police chief, Kathleen O'Toole to Ireland.

That came about as McWilliams was visiting Boston and met O'Toole, who was serving as the first female police commissioner, and decided "it might be really good to have women on the commission to reform Ireland's police so I recommended her."

Thus O'Toole became a member of the commission and eventually
chief inspector of the oversight body responsible for bringing reforms to the 17,000 member Irish national police service.

A champion for human rights, women's rights and equality, McWilliams' focus is also international, sharing Northern Ireland's lessons of peace-building with other countries seeking to emerge from conflict, ranging from Colombia, Syria and Myanmar to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. She likes to say they are places where "violence of the tongue has led to violence of the guns."

FitzSimons sought out McWilliams four years ago, soon after ending a 19-year career at Microsoft to concentrate on filmmaking, specifically to do a film about the lessons of the peace process but it soon became a film to focus on the role of women in peace negotiations in all countries.

"With my film, I'm connecting the role of women and civil society in peacemaking and bringing the Northern Ireland women's story into a contemporary context," FitzSimons said.

"I just got back from Gaziantep, Turkey," Fitzsimons emailed me recently. "I was there to film Monica as she worked with the Syrians. With my film I'm connecting the role of women and civil society in peacemaking and bringing the Northern Ireland women's story into a contemporary context."   
She hopes to complete the film late this year or early next, FitzSimons said, noting that "because of the human rights violations and violence women suffer, when they negotiate it's not about land but rather a focus on the future for their children and for society."

When I asked FitzSimons where her film's working title, "Wave Goodbye to Dinosaurs," came, from she explained: "A group of women holding a planning meeting in Belfast came up with that phrase for a poster to market what they were doing."

"One man said 'why are you calling us dinosaurs?' FitzSimons explained, to which she said McWilliams replied 'Do you see your name on that poster? Stop identifying yourself with the dinosaurs.'"
 
Continue reading

Personal reflections on Mike Lowry, passionate believer in people

Personal reflections on Mike Lowry, passionate believer in people
It would be laughable, in this era of unbridgeable political divides, to envision an elected official who nurtured his image as "liberal Democrat" while priding himself on being "the congressman from Boeing." But that was Mike Lowry, the former governor who died early Monday after suffering a stroke.

Because of our 50-year friendship, beginning when he headed the staff of the State Senate Ways & Means Committee and I was the Capital reporter for UPI, this Harp will be more of a personal reflection on Lowry than a catalogue of who he was and what he did.

He was this state's epitome of the progressive politician for 40 years. He believed in the environment and cared deeply about the needs of farm workers, causes he was still involved with at the time of his death at the age of 78.

Lowry was an urban politician proud of his rural roots, growing up in the Palouse community of St. John, and his education at Washington State University.

It was in his desire to get things done for job-creating big business that he was unusual for a Democrat. He brought his political power to work on behalf of Boeing and other large companies because he felt it was the state's role to help companies that provided high-paying jobs.

Thus while being viewed by small business as the enemy, he was generally held in high regard by big business, including Boeing, which quietly supported him in his successful bid for governor in 1992.

It was soon after the election that Lowry called me to meet for breakfast to talk about possible candidates to head the state department of trade and economic development . I thought it would be cool to meet with the governor-elect at the WAC, maybe Rainier Club or even the Four Seasons.
 
Then I learned that his favorite breakfast spot was the Denny's on I-405 north of Renton. Nothing too fancy for Lowry and thus it became the place we met regularly over the years.

Lowry wanted to know what I thought of Mike Fitzgerald as a potential director of the agency. Because Fitzgerald was a friend and a fellow Montanan who got his economic development start working personally, right out of college, for the governor, I said "he'd be great."

Fitzgerald, now president and CEO of the Denver South Economic Development Partnership, worked directly for or with nine governors during his years in economic development and told me in a telephone conversation this week: "I have never worked for anyone who loved their state more than he loved Washington state and its citizens."

"He understood and could articulate the role of the triple bottom line of successfully balancing the economy, the social agenda and environmental considerations," Fitzgerald said, noting that Lowry "was personally involved in Washington landing two of the biggest tech-industry coups in the country at that time."

He was referring to Lowry ensuring the state took the steps necessary, including things like new freeway interchanges and face to face meetings, to land Taiwan Semiconductor in Clark County and an Intel plant in southern Pierce County.

The antipathy of small business, particularly small-business organizations, was cemented from the outset of Lowry's single term as the state's chief executive (he didn't seek a second term partly because of the publicity that surrounded a sexual harassment action by a former press aide, which was settled).

That antipathy was particularly true after he guided legislative enactment of a statewide system of health insurance with premiums based on ability to pay, a law that put a lot of cost pressure on small businesses.

It was the anger of small business toward Lowry over the healthcare law, in addition to is his guiding the 1993 Legislature to double the business & occupation tax for service businesses, that led to my most amusing memory of him. I had sought his partnership with The Puget Sound Business Journal to put on a Governor's Conference on Small Business.

He agreed but as small business antagonism toward Lowry intensified, I grew concerned about the kind of animosity he might face when he appeared at the conference. So I met with him the afternoon before to express my concern and urge him, when he opened the conference the following morning, to just thank the business people for being on hand and wait until the end of the day to make positive comments about things he was doing for business.

"Good advice," he said as we sat in his office going over the agenda. So I was stunned when he opened the conference doing exactly what I had advised him against.

As a result he was pummeled throughout the day by negative comments about him, directly or by innuendo, from the array of speakers from the various sessions.

I was worried when he left quickly without attending the closing-session cocktail party. And more so the next day when I received an anxious call from the person in his office assigned to work with me on the conference.

"I am very worried because he called his entire staff together this morning, expressed his anger and said 'I am going to find out who was responsible for the embarrassment I suffered,'" the staff member told me.

I contacted Lowry and asked if we could meet in his Seattle office to review the conference.

As we sat down facing each other, I said: "Governor, I get the impression you are unhappy about the conference. If there was a problem, there are only two people who could be responsible. You are looking at one, and you see the other one in the mirror."

He flipped his arm up as one of those ear-to-ear smiles spread across his face and he said: "I don't have time to worry about yesterday's irritations, so don't sweat it."

Don Brunell, retired president of Association of Washington Business who often crossed swords with Lowry and other Democratic governors on business issues, told me not holding a grudge was a Lowry trademark.

Brunell offered the comment: "Lowry never personalized anything. He could blow his stack at you one day and be genuinely smiling the next."

Lowry served 10 years as the state's 7th district congressman and twice ran for the U.S. Senate, losing to Dan Evans in a special election in 1983, and to Slade Gorton in 1988. before returning to the political wars to run for governor in 1992. He won, defeating state Attorney General Ken Eikenberry to win his lone term.

After his '88 loss to Gorton, he returned to Washington state along with Dan Evans, who had decided not to seek re-election, and the two joined together to initiate the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC).

"Since we came from very different political backgrounds we were soon dubbed the 'Odd Couple,' Evans recalled in an email to me. "I think we both enjoyed the title and both have seen a huge result from that small beginning."

"We were competitors, but far more importantly were colleagues, partners and good friends," Evans added.

Brunell praised Lowry as an elected official with integrity. "While most of them promised not to raise taxes and sometimes wound up doing so, Lowry said he would only raise taxes as a last resort." He did raise the B&O tax dramatically in 1993 but cut back on half the increase two years later.

Said Evans: There was never any question what Mike believed and he worked tirelessly on issues, always with peace, people and progress in mind. We lost a first rate political leader, a passionate believer in people, and I lost a good friend."

Fitzgerald said Lowry's favorite personal saying, repeated half a dozen times in private meetings with him, was from Thomas Jefferson, who talked of a goal of seeking to create "an aristocracy of achievement arising out of a democracy of opportunity."
Continue reading

40 Years Fuels John Buller's 'Age of Disruption'

40 Years Fuels John Buller's 'Age of Disruption'

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 johnBuller 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." 

Continue reading

Joe Galloway Returning To Seattle For More Interviews With Vietnam Veterans

Joe Galloway Returning To Seattle For More Interviews With Vietnam Veterans

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.

96 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

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.

Continue reading

52°F

Seattle

Mostly Cloudy

Humidity: 63%

Wind: 14 mph

  • 24 Mar 2016 52°F 42°F
  • 25 Mar 2016 54°F 40°F
Banner 468 x 60 px