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Google & Big Tech — New accusations of antitrust, privacy and possible criminal conduct abound

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Monopolize and manipulate. Those are the antitrust accusations and charges of privacy invasion, and even illegal conduct, being tossed at Google and Facebook by a group of state attorneys general, a coalition of newspaper publishers and members of Congress, all of whom want to bring the tech giants to heel in one way or another.

But a suit against Google and its subsidiary YouTube by a Seattle-based firm whose business includes managing receiverships may prove equally interesting to watch as it unfolds.

And now add the suit filed Monday by Washington Atty. Gen. Robert Ferguson and attorneys general from three other states focusing on Google’s collection of local data that can be used to target advertising as well as build internet-user profiles, even those users who had acted on Google’s agreement to let them opt-out. Ferguson said, bluntly, Google’s conduct “is not only dishonest, but it’s also unlawful.”

The suit by Revitalization Partners, likely the first of its kind by a court-appointed receiver, alleges Google and YouTube infringed on a trio of patents held by a Bellevue-based company named AudienceScience Inc., which actually went out of business five years ago. 

Al Davis Revitalization PartnersAl Davis
Revitalization Partners
Revitalization Partners’ co-founder and principal Al Davis said his firm discovered more than 30 AudienceScience patents after being appointed by the court to manage the receivership process, which involves finding the best solution for the highest possible return for creditors.

A determination of patent infringement would likely mean financial penalties for Google and YouTube, though Revitalization Partners’ suit does not include a request for a specific dollar judgment.

But Ferguson’s suit specifically asks that Google be ordered to disclose the profits it made from using the tactics alleged and give it all back as well as pay a $7,500 fee for each violation. That would mean uncovering Google’s profits from the activity.

Davis noted that AudienceScience invented and patented many of the “foundational technologies” used across the digital advertising industry today, including the industry’s first of what are called “behavioral targeting products.” That means targeting advertising based on both user history and page views.

AudienceScience was a Bellevue company known for building software and tools designed to help major marketers buy digital ads programmatically, using a combination of automation and data. It closed its doors after it lost its long-time client Procter & Gamble.

“Now that we’ve received the necessary approvals from the Washington State receivership court to pursue litigation, we are in a position to execute and potentially recover a significant amount of value for creditors using these and other patents,” Davis said.

If you’ve ever had the sense akin to something like catching someone peeking in your bedroom window when, for example, ads for various San Diego hotels suddenly appear on your desktop after you’ve been looking up the website of a hotel in that city, you’ll understand what technology of user information to empower advertisers is all about. And why the effort to control it as an example of privacy invasion is beginning to attract such attention at the highest levels.

And how much the major tech companies have made off of providing information to advertisers on where visitors to the internet seek information, should that sort of financial information ever be ferreted out, could prove interesting to the attorneys general, publishers, and Congress in determining actions to impose limits on the activities of the tech giants.

Ferguson’s suit seeking specific profit information would be a key step in determining that information on the riches gleaned by actions increasingly viewed as privacy invasion and patent infringement.
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According to material unveiled in the past few days in the case brought in Texas by the coalition of attorneys general, Google manipulated the system of buying and selling online display ads and deceived advertisers. Google dominates the online system for buying and selling online display ads.

If courts affirm such manipulation charges, it would mean more than just other media entities seeking to have their ads reach consumers were harmed but also consumers in general since such action inevitably leads to fewer product choices.

In fact, the Revitalization Partners suit against Google and YouTube isn’t the first on behalf of a small tech firm alleging Google infringed on its patents.

Coincidentally, another former Bellevue company named VoIP-Pal.com Inc. has over the past few years filed suits against Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other major tech companies alleging violation of the patents it holds on what’s known as Voice-over-Internet Protocol.

VoIP-Pal is a publicly-traded corporation that is actually a penny stock (hovering at a few cents a share) because it has never been able to monetize the technology of its patents and likely won’t unless the courts order the big tech companies to pay for using what VoIP-Pal contends it holds the patents for. It owns a portfolio of such patents.

For example, VoIP-Pal contends Amazon’s Alexa calling and messaging service uses VoIP-Pal’s patented technologies to direct voice and video calls and messages is an infringement on one of its patents. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision how much revenue would flow to VoIP-Pal from a court decision requiring Amazon to pay VoIP-Pal for Alexa’s technology.

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, after several years of deliberation, approved all the patents for the various technologies in the company’s portfolio and the entity known as the Patent Trials and Appeals Board, in an unusual decision favoring the “little guy,” rejected the challenges by the big tech companies to the validity of VoIP-Pal patents.

Observers of these types of litigations relating to patent infringement actions against the major tech firms know there’s a quiet desire not to have a suit by a small firm come before one of the Silicon Valley Federal judges.

But the federal judge in West Texas has a track record of the ruling, in patent infringement cases, in favor of the patent holder. VoIP-Pal recently moved its corporate headquarters to Waco, TX.

 
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Decade-old law to halt insider trading by members of Congress drawing some renewed attention

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At a time when Congress is poisoned by political animosity and divisiveness on most issues, there’s suddenly conversation that lawmakers should address the issue of the law-breaking they are permitting from many members’ stock-market involvement.
 
Law-breaking? Well, there’s a law in place, largely the work of former Washington Congressman Brian Baird, called the STOCK Act. The measure, appropriately titled Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, was designed to make insider trading by members of Congress illegal and force more transparency in their financial dealings.
 
The issue has stirred some attention in recent weeks, including an intraparty squabble instead of the now-usual partisan shouting.
 
Brian BairdBrian BairdUnfortunately, there are some compelling issues like hearings on the January 6 insurrection, struggles over voting rights, and discussion over political views on violence that have created gaping divisions almost totally partisan that challenge interparty discussion on other important issues like member financial dealings.
 
But disclosures by the global online media company Insider of the dozens of violations of the STOCK Act, and thus the law, sparked the exchange among Democrats over stock ownership and maybe created an issue that can attract focus from lawmakers in both parties.
 
The disclosures prompted Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex to suggest members of Congress should be barred from trading and holding stock, even individual shares. That set off House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who scoffed at the idea, saying “We’re a free market economy and they (members of Congress and spouses) should be able to participate in that.”
 
It’s worth recalling that it was Pelosi’s ineptitude in 2011 with questions on the stock-ownership issue from a reporter for 60-minutes and a public reaction it caused that helped push Congress to quickly take up and pass the STOCK Act in 2012. That quick action to pass the bill in the face of public outcry came after six years of Baird unsuccessfully pressing for consideration or even support.
 
So perhaps the 10th anniversary of the passage of the STOCK Act and recalling the manner in which intense public pressure brought about its passage might prompt a revisiting, particularly with a recent focus on its failings in terms of sufficient penalties for violators.

I reached out to Baird, the former congressman from Washington’s third district and now an Edmonds resident, for his thoughts.

“The penalty for insider trading by a member of Congress should be no less than that kind of trading by a corporate insider,” he said. “It is a flagrant abuse of power and trust that not only distorts markets but undermines the public’s faith in their government. That warrants very serious consequences in my judgment.”

 Ironically and unfortunately, since Baird, now 65, didn’t seek re-election in 2010, he had been out of office nearly a year when the telling CBS segment aired to set the stage for a rush by Congress to pass the bill.
 
Here is a section from a November 2011 column I wrote after the CBS program aired.
 
“During the last three of his six terms representing the state's 3rd District, Democrat Baird sought unsuccessfully to pass, or even just gather support for, what he called the Stock Act. It would have barred members of Congress from doing stock transactions in areas they regulate, in essence, prohibiting their investing in a manner that those in the real world call Insider Trading
 
 “For ordinary citizens, reaction to Baird's proposal would be a laughable ‘well, of course’ But in a place whose mantra is ‘the rules we make for you don't apply to us,’ seeking to force action by the lawmakers on one small, self-imposed ethical constraint could become a rallying point for a fed-up public.
 
“The thrust of the CBS segment that aired this month is that lawmakers often do make stock purchases and trades in the very fields they regulate. While ordinary citizens could be jailed for engaging in the kind of investment shenanigans that those in Congress involve themselves in, there's not even an ethical concern among lawmakers.
 
“And a sure way to take this worthwhile campaign viral is to share in every possible social-media fashion 60 Minutes reporter Steve Croft's questioning of current House Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi at their respective news conferences.
 
Viewers of the ineptitude with which both Boehner and Pelosi tried to answer Croft's questions about whether their investment practices were at least conflicts of interest were irate.
 
Pelosi was unforgettable, stuttering ‘you…you wouldn’t suggest I’d do anything that was not in the best interest of my constituents?’ The thought that had to occur was ‘Who elects these people?’ The answer, unfortunately, is people like us elect them. Shame on us.”
 
The kind of stock-market activity that Croft pointed out included Boehner, now retired, having bought a bunch of health-care-related stock during the healthcare reform debate of 2009. And when Boehner's efforts to kill the so-called "public option" succeeded, those stocks skyrocketed.
 
Pelosi, meanwhile, had gotten in on a series of lucrative stock Initial Public Offerings. One of those involved an enormous number of Visa shares that Pelosi purchased while she was working on legislation that would have hurt credit card companies. Two days after purchasing the stock at $44 a share, and after the bill was put on long-term hold, Pelosi's stock shot up to $64 a share.”
 
After the program aired and the public reaction to it shocked members of Congress, lawmakers rushed to get their names on the bill once it was introduced in January in both house and Senate.
 
It was the 2012 bill introduced in the Senate by outgoing Sen. Joseph Liberman that added a name to Baird’s Stock act, Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act. It passed the House in February with only two dissenting votes and in April in the Senate with three dissenters.
 
I asked Baird this week to reflect on what’s happened since including the impact disclosures under the act’s reporting requirements had on the two Georgia Senate races in 2020 whose outcome determined control of the Senate.
Actually, the role played by the STOCK Act in the defeats of Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both Republicans, that this gave the Democrats Senate control was significant visibility for certain stock trades they made. That visibility came at a time when the suffering caused by the pandemic and the widespread economic hardship of the average Georgians were viewed as playing in the outcomes.
 
“Unfortunately many members are flagrantly disregarding the STOCK Act,” Baird said. “Rand Paul, for example, did not file in anything near the required time and that fact only became known after the election.”
 
“This has to change through more stringent enforcement and serious consequences for violations,” Baird added. “Enforcement should be through a combined process of the SEC as an external entity and the internal ethics mechanisms of the Congress. It may be necessary to create an independent review body.”  
 
Maybe the 10th anniversary of the STOCK Act may occasion some focused discussion on how it's doing. Or not doing.
 
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Heavey hopes his efforts to free the wrongfully imprisoned might draw those focused on racial justice

justice
Michael (Mike) Heavey, founder and CEO of an organization dedicated to freeing those wrongfully imprisoned, is hoping an awareness-creating holiday ask will attract companies that reacted to Black Lives Matter by devoting resources to create opportunities and correct injustices.
 
Heavey, a former Washington legislator and King County Superior Court judge who created Judges for Justice in 2013, notes that corporations pledged billions of dollars following the Black Lives Matter moment of reckoning on racial justice in America.
 
 “Maybe the greatest injustice of all is the wrongful loss of freedom,” Heavey suggested.
 
“The issue of the large number of people imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit becomes clearly a racial justice issue with statistics that indicate black people are seven times more likely to be wrongly convicted of murder than white people,” Heavey said.
 
Heavey says that once his organization has identified a wrongful conviction, “we conduct a campaign of innocence.”
 
He describes the approach of creating a climate aimed at aiding the imprisoned person as like a political campaign with mailers, media visibility, and Facebook ads and bar magazine ads.
 
In fact, Judges for Justice is currently involved in such an effort on behalf of an Ohio prisoner and is this week filing a motion to convince the Hawaii supreme court to take action in relation to Judges for Justice’s longest ongoing effort, the 1991 murder of a 23-year-old woman.
 
He likens his group’s role to that of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, noting “Judges for Justice enters the fray and is a gadfly, creating a tension in society, applying pressure to get people to challenge and question the status quo.”

Mike HeaveyMike HeaveyThose familiar with Ancient Greek history will recall that Socrates was forced by Athenians weary of his pressures on their society to drink the poisoned Hemlock.
 
There are those in justice and law enforcement establishments upset by Heavey’s efforts because of their desire to resist freeing a prisoner they had roles in imprisoning who might wish to find the legal version of a dose of Hemlock to have Heavey drink.
 
Among them likely the Hawaii Innocence Project, which filed a complaint with the Washington Bar Association over Heavey’s involvement in Hawaii.
 
But in another instance, his four years of effort that resulted in the release of Chris Tapp, wrongfully convicted in Idaho for murder and rape, after serving 20 years of a life sentence, earned Heavey nomination for a bar association award.
 
The impetus for Heavey’s focus on the wrongfully imprisoned was a case that attracted global attention: the trial, conviction, and imprisonment of his daughter’s high school friend, Amanda Knox.
 
He got involved in the Knox case in 2008, the year following her arrest and that of her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito in Perugia, Italy, for the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kircher.
 
Heavey said he found the case unsettling because the Amanda Knox he knew as she was growing up differed so greatly from how she was portrayed in the media. He said as he examined the case more closely, he saw distinct indications of a wrongful conviction.
 
Amanda and Raffaele were convicted of murder in December of 2009 and she spent four years in prison before her conviction was overturned by the Italian appellate court, with the help of Heavey’s visibility efforts. She was allowed to go free and return to Seattle where she published a memoir recalling her ordeal.
 
In creating his Judges for Justice (JFJ) soon thereafter, Heavey zeroed in on another case that his efforts have made highly visible, the Christmas Eve 1991 abduction, rape, and murder of 23-year-old Dana Ireland on the Big Island of Hawaii.
 
Three men, including two native Hawaiians, were convicted and imprisoned. One, Frank Pauline, has since been murdered while in a New Mexico prison.
 
Heavey undertook the Dana Ireland murder case of the three convicted men because he said the DNA evidence from the crime didn’t match any of the three. And the prosecution knew that.
 
Since then JFJ has produced a 14-part documentary titled Murder in Hawaii that uses what he insists were the wrongful convictions for Dana Ireland’s murder as the main case study for their exploration. It is designed to help answer two questions: “How you can tell if a case is a wrongful conviction” and “How you can help free a wrongfully convicted person.”
 
His visibility campaign to mount public support has included one mailer, sent to 50,000 households on the Big Island, to get people to watch Episode 11 that shows how the real killer can be caught. He said the episode has now attracted more 35,000 YouTube viewers.
 
A second mailer this past July went to the 50,000 households on the Big Island plus another 50,000 in the Honolulu area urging people to watch Murder in Hawaii in general.
 
It’s the kind of documentary about which I’m frankly surprised he hasn’t found an interested television station, or potential corporate supporters, to air it somewhere that the wrongful-conviction issue has been raised.
 
In fact, JFJ is filing a motion this week with the Hawaii Supreme Court contending two Hawaii lawyers violated professional ethics “by intentionally concealing DNA evidence that might have exonerated Pauline and freed him,” asking “appropriate action” by the court.
 
Heavey, who celebrated his 75th birthday earlier this month, brings an interesting legal background to his Judges for Justice leadership, including his 14 years in the Washington State Legislature and 12 as a King County Superior Court judge.
 
But his non-legal background helps set him apart. He is about to reach 19 years of remission from the non-Hodgkin Lymphoma with which he was diagnosed in 2003. That’s the kind of cancer that claimed the lives of Paul Allen and Blake Nordstrom.
 
He has marked his cancer remission anniversaries by climbing a mountain each year, beginning in 2006 with a climb of Mt. Rainier, accomplishments that are part of what he refers to as the inner “healing force inside of us.”
 
He did five climbs of Mt. Rainier as well as various other Northwest peaks and once, with his 30-year friend, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (elected to the legislature in 1987, the same year Heavey was), the 19,340-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro. That 2013 climb of the “Roof of Africa” was guided by their mutual friend, and mine, Seattle investment advisor John Rudolf.
 
In addition to this week’s appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court, the other case in which JFJ is actively involved, along with the Ohio Innocence Project, is on behalf of Wayne Brady and Karl Willis, both black men, who have been imprisoned for 22 years.
 
JFJ sent political-type 6-by-11 postcards to 30,000 “frequent voter households” in the Toledo area, a list including the judges and prosecutors who would be involved in the sought-after retrial of the two.
 
To emphasize the importance of the Judges for Justice effort, Heavey notes that a recent study of those freed after being imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit found that 117 of those exonerated had been on death row.
 
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Election laws rewriting draws ire of state's GOP secretaries of state

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The political melodrama being played out in Republican-held legislatures around the country of rewriting election laws, a process worrisome to election officials of both parties, is getting a hard pushback from two nationally respected retired Washington Republican secretaries of state as well as the current holder of that office, also a Republican.

And a Republican side-stage scene of a bizarre vote recount in Arizona is described by Kim Wyman, the three-term current Washington secretary of state, as “a process that should concern every American.”

As in their outspoken support for Georgia’s secretary of state as he was being personally pressured by President Donald Trump to twist that state’s election outcome to his favor, five-term secretary of state Ralph Munro and his three-term successor Sam Reed have nothing but criticism for the voting rewrite efforts.Kim WymanKim Wyman

“It’s ridiculous for elected officials in these states to be using this Democracy-threatening device to perpetuate the big lie,” said Munro, to which Reed said, “that’s exactly how I would say it.”

“These election-change efforts are starting down a pretty scary road for Democracy,” added Wyman, who was elected to her third four-year term last November.

The three, plus Bruce Chapman, Republican who was appointed secretary of state in 1975 by Gov. Dan Evans and was elected to a single term in 1976 then made an unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination for governor in 1980, are being honored in a virtual event on May 20 by the Mainstream Republicans of Washington. The four will share the virtual stage to discuss their collective roles in this state’s 57-year GOP hold on the office of secretary of state, Washington’s chief election officer.

That remarkable political success story in what has usually been, and increasingly so in recent years, a deep blue state began in 1964 with the election of young Seattle City Councilman A. Ludlow Kramer who joined Dan Evans, who was elected governor, in a remarkable year in which their success defeating Democratic incumbents went dramatically against the Democratic sweep across the nation, led by Lyndon Johnson’s overwhelming defeat of Barry Goldwater.

Jon Nehring, the 10-year mayor of Marysville and chair of the organization that names itself mainstream isn’t sure an organization of that name exists in other states, though he agreed with a chuckle that it’s quite likely Republicans in Alabama or Texas would describe themselves as mainstream. Pretty certain that would include all the GOP House members who ousted Liz Cheney from her leadership role Wednesday for her criticisms of Trump.

Reed said that while The Mainstream Republicans of Washington is a unique organization, most states have a loosely connected group of moderates/mainstreamers.

Incidentally, I advised the three that Republicans like them are going to have to come up with a different mantra than “big lie” about Trump and Republicans who contend without factual support that the election was stolen by President Joe Biden and the Democrats. That’s because Trump this week co-opted that “big lie” phrase to now refer to his view, and the view of his followers, that he actually won in November.

The Washington Post did an analysis of the GOP’s national push in states around the country to enact hundreds of new election restrictions. The Post said the effort “could strain every available method of voting for tens of millions of Americans, potentially amounting to the most sweeping contraction of ballot access in the United States since the end of Reconstruction, when Southern states curtailed the voting rights of formerly enslaved Black men”.

In data compiled as of Feb, 19, the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice found that in 43 states across the country, Republican lawmakers have proposed at least 250 laws that would limit mail, early in-person, and Election Day voting with such constraints as stricter ID requirements, limited hours or narrower eligibility to vote absentee.Ralph MunroRalph Munro

One of the numerous voter constraints being enacted or considered in many states where Republican legislatures hold sway is voters being required to carry some sort of approved personal i.d. to be permitted to vote.

Addressing that, Wyman said, “if states are going to crack down with a requirement for a voter i.d. then every eligible voter should have access to official i.d. for free.”

Wyman was particularly critical of the unusual election recount in Arizona, where the Republican-led State Senate ordered a recount of All 2.1 million votes cast in Maricopa County, a review being conducted not by elections officials but by independent contractors…a Florida firm that has no background with elections.

“If the 10,000 people who oversee local elections are to be replaced in oversight of the elections by state legislators, outcomes in the future will depend on which party is in power in a particular state,” said Wyman,

Wyman used the phrase “epitome of the opaque” to describe the Arizona recount, which she said is “a process that should concern every American.”

Munro, who I’ve known for 54 years and have never known him to go easy with something that deserves his criticism, said “rightwingers see voter fraud under every rock. In my 35 years of election involvement, I’ve seen voting mistakes occur but never of significant consequence.”

“To allow legislatures to directly oversee local election officials would be totally politicizing what is basically a very good process everywhere with people from both parties involved in watching the process and the counting,” he added.

When I wrote of Munro’s and Reed’s praise Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for the manner in which he resisted personal pressure from Trump to alter the presidential election outcome in his state, I noted their suggestion that he deserved some sort of national honor for his courage.

Now Raffensperger’s state is among the leaders of the move to basically rewrite voter eligibility provisions with what critics see as a way to reduce the minority vote in the future.

One of the reasons Munro and Reed give for the phenomenal string of terms the Republicans have held the state’s chief elections overseer is that all have guided the office almost as if it were a non-partisan office.

And each had roles that went well beyond election oversight in their service to the state, including the international trade role, in Munro’s case.

Meanwhile, as the Republican state senate order of a recount of 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County continues, one of the Republican senators who voted to approve the recount, under the control of a Florida firm hired to oversee it, is expressing regret at voting in favor of it.Sam ReedSam Reed

“I didn’t think it would be this ridiculous. It’s embarrassing to be a state senator at this point,” Paul Boyer said of a partisan recount.

More than 100 Republican former governors, members of Congress, cabinet officials, and others plan to release a “call for American renewal” statement of principles and vision for the party on Thursday, a day after House Republicans removed Liz Cheney from their leadership ranks for her opposition to Trump’s false claims about a stolen 2020 election that sparked an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The group says it is prepared to raise “tens of millions” of dollars to support candidates in competitive 2022 midterm elections that will decide control of Congress and are laying the groundwork for an alternative party if the GOP doesn’t change course.

But Reed had a firm response to the idea of an alternative party.

“Third parties are a pipe dream. A waste of time,” Reed said.

That means he sees changes that need to be made having to come from within the GOP.

(Virtual event May 29 at 7:00 pm. Register at www.mrwalliance.org/honoring-our-secretaries-of-state-virtual-event. Individual tickets are $25 each or purchase a ticket to the event and the VIP reception with Secretary Kim Wyman for $250.  NOTE: Information on how to log onto the Zoom event will be sent after registration. )

 
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'Do today' mantra (and cancer that spurred it) recalled a decade on

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(Editors note: It was a decade ago this month that successful colon-cancer surgery and the recovery process gave me a different outlook on life and the thoughts I had led to the following column, written in May of 2012, which I was reminded of as my mind replayed the details that are included herein 10 years on. I was particularly reminded of my successful bout with colon cancer as I saw WSU president Elson Floyd courageously fight his losing battle in 2015 while successfully waging a second battle to get the legislature to approve a medical school for WSU, the one that now bears his name. Remember the time references in the column all relate to a decade ago. )
  ------
 It was my new mantra of "do today what yesterday you might have put off until tomorrow" that guided my decision to compete in the 2011 Huntsman World Senior Games, just over four months after colon-cancer surgery.
 
The goal wasn't merely to prove that a 71-year-old guy can come back from major surgery and resume normal activity, even if the activity seems like a stretch to the sedentary of any age. It was also to acknowledge successful recovery from cancer while various friends are battling the Big-C, or have lost their battles.
 
There's a prescribed two-month "no strenuous exercise" recovery period following that kind of major surgery and it was while enduring that inaction that running in the Games 10 weeks after I could get back to heavy exercise the last week of July had become the most important thing I could imagine.
 
Just before the exercise-restraint period ended, I visited with my primary care physician at the Polyclinic, Patrizia Showell, whose insistence that I find out why I had iron deficiency anemia and her finger in my chest saying in a raised voice, in the face of my seeming lack of concern, “You are going to find out why!” guided me to the colonoscopy that set the stage for the pronouncement: “You have cancer.”
 
Interestingly, Showell was on hand as the three surgeons explained the finding and the process to follow. I later asked her “why were you there.” I wanted to see how you would react,” she replied. “Some people get really angry and others get very emotional and I wanted to know in case you needed some support later.” I was neither, merely listening with interest about the finding and the process ahead.
 
I was visiting with Showell to let the doc I frequently thereafter told “you saved my life,” that I was headed for the World Senior Games, thanks to her.
 
Putting on my workout shoes for the first time in two months brought an adrenalin rush but I knew I was going to have to be uncharacteristically cautious with my leg muscles, particularly the hamstrings that had always caused me trouble. The worst thing I could imagine at that point was that I would press too hard and pull or strain a hamstring and that would be the end of the goal.
 
The 2011 Huntsman World Senior Games had an added special appeal to me because it was the 25th anniversary of the two-week event created by Jon Huntsman Sr., in 1986. What could make the competitive comeback more special than it being for a special milestone for the games themselves? And an added special part of the memories is that I placed third in the 100 in my age group in those 25th-anniversary games.
 
Huntsman’s vision was that an event called the World Senior Games, even if held in a remote corner of Southwest Utah, would eventually draw thousands of what others might dismiss as "the elderly" for the chance to play and compete with their peers in an event with “world” in the name.
 
So it is that 25 years after their founding, the 2011 games attracted about 6,000 seniors who, over the two-week period, competed in everything from track and field to badminton, pickleball, lawn bowling, volleyball, square dancing, and even bridge. Some of the competitors were in their 90s.
 
I've been drawn to the games because of the "world" name since I first heard of them in 2003 and made up my mind to compete in the 100 and 200 meters in my age group once I learned that you didn't have to be a "world-class" athlete. That means some competitors really were world-class while others like me, who weren't, could still compete, and that's always been the magic draw.
 
Huntsman, 73, founded and was longtime CEO of what became the publicly traded (as of 2005) $9 billion world's largest chemicals company with 12,000 employees. He and his wife, Karen, still open each year's Senior Games, where the participants now number in the thousands each October.
 
Huntsman, the father of the former Utah governor, China ambassador, and briefly a Republican presidential hopeful, Jon Huntsman Jr., evidenced his ultimate commitment to the community following prostate cancer surgery 15 years ago.
 
He set out to establish a world-class cancer research and treatment center, a dream he's pleased to say is now realized with the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Hospital in Salt Lake City.
 
The Huntsman family continues to serve as principal benefactors and fundraisers for the Huntsman Cancer Institute with what he describes as "the ultimate goal" of eradicating the most challenging forms of cancer.
 
And it's on that final note about the Huntsmans' commitment to community and overcoming as great a challenge as cancer that I sense a common thread in their commitments and the commitments of those who travel to St. George each year to participate and compete.
 
The producer of a recent movie on the senior games said: "What drew us to the senior games was the positivity. These people have an unparalleled zeal for life. When you're 90 and 100 years old and have endured life's challenges and still have such a positive attitude, it's beyond impressive. We felt it was worth a film."
 
In a sense, the producer summed up in his way what's become my view: Life is a race to be appreciated for the joy of participation and whether world-class -- or a bit slower --making it to the finish line ahead of cancer, or any other physical or mental obstacle, is really the sweetest race to win.
 
So in recent days, a year-later clean bill of health on last year's cancer sets the stage for my few-days-hence prostate cancer surgery, as Jon Huntsman Sr. underwent those years ago. Then I can begin to tick off the "no strenuous exercise" weeks, which my surgeon tells me will be a shorter wait this time, before I can begin getting back into condition for the 2012 games.
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(Post Note: Huntsman died in 2018 at the age of 80. I appreciated getting to meet him a couple of times at the Games, which I have competed in most years since 2011, taking second once but never winning, although being there is winning. Huntsman's philanthropy deserves to be remembered, particularly his telling comment about certain attitudes of the wealthy: “The people I particularly dislike are those who say I’m going to leave it in my will. What they are really saying is if I could live forever I’d never give any of it away.” Jon Huntsman Sr.)
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Two experienced women head Bellevue first-responder groups

BellevueSkyline2020

Two Eastside women with significant business backgrounds have recently assumed roles heading the non-profits that fund technology needs and community outreach programs of Bellevue’s first responders, both police and fire. This amid the challenge posed by the national movement to defund the police, a move that both view as not supported by the majority of citizens.

Villette Nolon, president and executive director of the Bellevue Police Foundation for only a few weeks, has made an intriguing transition into her new role having most recently served as the president and CEO of Imagine Housing, the Eastside’s leading affordable housing non-profit where she frequently worked with low-income families.

Villette NolonVillette NolonThat involvement helped her realize “the relationship between the community and the police is complicated but important.”

Nolon was long one of this area’s most prominent female angel investors, including chair and president of Seraph Capital Forum, the nation’s first all-women angel group, and a key executive with Angel Capital Association, the national association of angel investors.

Laura McCloud Mathers, President & CEO of the Bellevue Fire Department Foundation, was urged by Bellevue Fire Chief Jay Hagen to take the leadership of the foundation after she had been tapped as a consultant in December of 2019 to advise on how to create a foundation for the department.

Mathers, who had served as head of the Seattle Police Foundation for two and a half years while Kathleen O’Toole was chief, describes Hagen, who had spent 30 years with the Seattle Fire Department before being tapped to head the Bellevue fire department three years ago, as “an incredible leader, passionate in his commitment.”

Mathers’ background includes being the first membership director of the Columbia Tower Club, a key executive at the World Trade Center, and executive director of the Seattle Rotary Club.

“It is so sad that defunding the police foundations is a new racial justice target, putting pressure on companies to cut vital ties with nonprofit police foundations,” said McCloud. “Clearly they don’t understand the role of the foundation is primarily to ensure the police are well equipped with those things that will save lives and make the community safer for ALL!”

Nolon used as an example of the importance of the foundation’s work last month’s grant of $104,000 to police for what she described as “sorely needed new training and command system and a mobile wellness hub for officers, their families and retired officers to access health and wellness benefits the department offers.”

Mathers pointed to several examples of tools available to the Seattle police department as a result of community donations to the foundation, starting with AEDs for every patrol car, which she explained are “easy to use, low-maintenance defibrillators for people experiencing cardiac arrest while waiting for a medic unit to arrive.”
 
Another Mathers example:
Laura McCloud MathersLaura McCloud Mathers“Naloxone, a nasal spray that could be administered by officers to opioid overdose victims to bring back to life,” she explained. “SPD having Naloxone was initially a concern with the Seattle Fire Union - it was believed to be intruding on their scope of work. Fortunately, a meeting between Police Chief O’Toole and Fire Chief Scoggins put that to rest. “The union recognized the greater good for the community was for police to have it as they typically are at the scene before medics arrive – and seconds do matter between life and death.”

It might be suggested that those seeking to “defund the police” be made aware more forcefully of that point that police are usually at the scene of accidents or crises before the medics arrive and thus their services in such situations are vital, possibly even to the survival of victims.

The pushback against defunding the police may be getting underway, at least if the comment by New York mayoral candidate Eric Adams, a black former NYC police officer who see himself as the pro-public safety candidate who seems police as part of the solution. is any indication.

In an interview with New York Magazine published Tuesday, Adams said the "defund the police" movement is led not by people of color in the Big Apple, but rather by young white professionals.

Reflecting on her time guiding the Seattle Police Foundation, Mathers said:  “It was truly an honor to work with the many amazing men and women of SPD. I saw only big hearts and dedication to serving a community and improving lives. After seeing the evil of mankind perpetrated daily, they got up every day to face it again and pray they returned home safely to see their families again.”

Both are undertaking their roles confident that they’ll get more yes than no responses as they go about their fundraising duties in the Bellevue community.

 
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Four reporters who challenged WMD justification for Iraq War to be honored

Shock Wave Movie Shock Wave Movie: A 'fake news' tale to justify a war

Editor's note: Although “fake news” has, for some, become a way to disparage the accuracy of news reports, support for two of the nation’s most disastrous conflicts was built on “fake news” fashioned by no less than the men who were presidents.

I was reminded of that with word of an event this week to honor four reporters whose continuous challenge to the President George Bush administration’s claim of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to justify the preparations for the March 2003, invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein brought them to ridicule from journalistic peers and public criticism.\\

Perhaps second only to Lyndon Johnson’s creation of what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident to get the backing of Congress to wage the Vietnam war as he saw fit was George W. Bush’s masterful creation of the need to deal with Hussein’s alleged stockpile of WMD.

But this column is not to focus on the public manipulation by presidents but on the importance of journalistic courage to counter such efforts as a pillar of Democracy.

Rather the occasion is that the four reporters, including my friend Joe Galloway, who were covering the preparation for war from the Washington bureau of Knight-Ridder Newspapers, will receive the Defenders of Liberty Awards from an organization called the Committee for the Republic. Also honored will be the 2017 movie about the four called Shock and Awe, a drama conceived and directed by Rob Reiner, who also co-starred as John Walcott, the newspaper chain’s Washington bureau chief.

I am using the occasion of the honor to reprise a column I did when the movie came out three years ago, again because journalistic integrity and courage need to be shared to be appreciated. Encouraged. And sustained.

-------------------
As I wrote in that March 2017, column, it's perhaps appropriate that a degree of attention has focused on a movie about four professional journalists who were certain, in the face of all the forces arrayed against them, that President George Bush and his administration had concocted a "fake news" tale to justify a war in Iraq.

The movie is Shock and Awe, the title drawn from the campaign of that name created by the leaders of the Bush Administration in preparation for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a plan built on the premise that Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. Of course, the term "fake news" wasn't part of our culture then, especially being applied to a president.

The movie, conceived and directed by Rob Reiner, has been described as "the politically charged story" about the four reporters from the Washington, D.C., bureau of the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain who first looked into the Bush Administration's attempts to tie Saddam to the 9-11 terror attack. Thereafter their some 80 stories followed a theme that the allegations of WMDs were intentionally inaccurate.
 
The understandable support for Bush and his build-up for the war from the general public and others was the nation’s need for some cathartic revenge against someone for 9/11, thus the focus on Hussein in the year following that disaster toward the attack on Iraq in March of 2003.

One of the four reporters was iconic Vietnam correspondent Joseph L. Galloway, then more than 35 years into his career covering wars and those who fight them and thus the voice of experience that the two younger reporters, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, turned to for help in finding their way through the fabrications formed to keep the nation focused on the need for war with Iraq.

It is because of my friendship with Galloway, both of us alums of the news service UPI, and because many in the Seattle area came to know him during his two visits to do Vietnam veterans interviews and several interviews he and I did, including the Seattle Rotary, that I decided to do a Harp about the movie.
 
JoeGalloway aJoe GallowayRegular readers of the Harp will recall that Joe Galloway has been the subject of a half-dozen Harps in recent years (Google Flynn's Harp: Joe Galloway).
 
Eventually, the four including Knight-Ridder bureau chief John Walcott, played by Reiner himself, came to be described as "the only ones who got it right," but before that, they had to weather immense pressure and scorn, not only from the White House but also from peer publications and some editors of their own newspapers. 
 
For example, there is the story of the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer saying bluntly that the tone of their stories doesn't "fit in." And Galloway recalled "There is a scene in the movie where Walcott confronts the Philadelphia editor for choosing to run ‘New York Times b.s. over our story.’ He taunts the editor with 'will you be running the Times correction and apology when that comes out?'"
 
It was after watching a Bill Moyers’ interview with the reporters that Reiner decided to produce a movie dramatizing Knight Ridder’s lonely work. Released in 2017, Reiner ends “Shock and Awe” with a news clip of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, a constant journalistic supporter of the Bush WMD campaign, admitting the media got WMD wrong – “except for Knight-Ridder.”

The movie includes Miller’s comments, as well as Sen. Robert Byrd’s moving speech drawing parallels between the lies that drew America into its Vietnam debacle and the falsehoods that would destroy many American and Iraqi lives in Iraq.

There is a perhaps ironic juxtaposition of the timing of the release of the critically acclaimed The Post, whose storyline about the Washington Post's publisher, Kathrine Graham deciding to confront the Nixon White House by publishing the Pentagon Papers, and Shock and Awe detailing a confrontation with a different president and more recent time. And a reluctance of the newspaper to be part of the confrontation.
 
In fact, Reiner suggests that the struggle he had to secure U.S. distribution for the movie might relate to his belief that "American audiences might not be ready to confront the subject."
 
I didn't think anybody in America could stomach it," Reiner said. "I don't think they can stomach it now, to be honest with you."

The start of the Iraq War and how its continuation has unfolded in the years since then may be viewed as too near to current political realities for close scrutiny of the legitimacy of the Bush Administration's campaign to go to war. In fact, the allegation that the WMD case built by key members of the Bush team was fabricated still draws outrage from some conservatives.
 
It's obviously much easier to take a critical look at Richard Nixon, or with Reiner's LBJ, released last year bringing a critical look at another former president, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
 
In fact, Reiner's LBJ screenwriter, Joey Hartstone, also wrote Shock and Awe, and actor Woody Harrelson, who played LBJ. Plays one of the reporters in Shock and Awe.
 
The fact Reiner was greeted with two separate standing ovations last September (2017) at the Zurich International Film Festival for the world premiere of Shock and Awe may have contributed to the firming up of presentation in this country.
 
The movie was the second time that Galloway will have the opportunity to watch an actor on the screen playing him. Tommy Lee Jones in this case.
 
The other was the movie We Were Soldiers, which was released ironically in the year prior to the Iraq invasion, as the film version of Galloway's book, We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, co-authored by Hal Moore, the commanding officer of U.S. troops in the battle of Ia Drang. Later events, including Galloway’s subsequent reporting, made clear that in November 1965, la Drang battle, the first between U.S. forces and North Vietnam regular army troops were the losses on both sides convinced Ho Chi Minh that the U.S. could not win, was the defining battle of a war that would drag on for another decade and claim 55,000 American lives.
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National Women's History Month: recalling women reporters in Viet Nam

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It seems appropriate for National Women’s History Month to reflect on a group of women who have never gotten their due, even though they eagerly went where all but the bravest men feared to tread?

I’m referring, of course, to the Vietnam War and the group of brave women reporters who decided this was their war too, in fact, their first war, and that they were going to a place where shared peril would be the equalizing factor.

In fact, Dickey Chapelle, a writer for the National Observer, became the first female war correspondent to be killed in Vietnam, as well as the first American female reporter to be killed in action.

That was on November 4, 1965, mere months after the first wave of U.S. forces had arrived in Vietnam when she was struck in the neck by shrapnel from an exploding land mine while on patrol with a marine platoon.Tracy WoodTracy Wood

A handful of those women journalists of that era were fortunate to work for a news organization, United Press International, whose top management recognized that talent and competitiveness were all that mattered. If women reporters could fight to be the best in UPI’s on-going battle with the AP for journalistic preeminence, why should they be denied the opportunity?

But sometimes the women needed to evidence a bit more ingenuity to get the Vietnam assignment.

So it was with my late friend Tracy Wood, who was a reporter in UPI’s Sacramento bureau in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s while I was running UPI’s Olympia bureau. So we knew each other’s names though we didn’t meet and become friends until a decade ago.

As Tracy once explained to me, "Of the more than 2,200 journalists who were accredited by the U.S. military to cover Vietnam between 1965 and 1975, only 70 of them were women and most of those went in only for a short time to cover specific stories, such as someone from their town."

"It was hard for women to cover the Vietnam War," said Wood, who was an investigative reporter for Voice of Orange County at the time of her death from cancer in late 2019, after years in the investigative reporter role with the LA Times.

"The military would give you credentials, but the leaders of the top news organizations were opposed to sending women reporters to cover combat. Magazines would use women reporters, but not the wires or big news organizations like The NY Times or WA Post."

Wood didn't get to Vietnam until 1972 when she was 24 and it took careful planning for a young woman who was a political writer for UPI in Sacramento to get to the New York bureau where her lobbying would be closer to the decision-makers.

Her immediate boss on the UPI cables desk didn't think a woman should cover wars. But Wood had the good fortune to work for UPI, whose top editors Roger Tatarian and H. L. Stevenson believed in the ability of women to report just as well as men, and dispatched several high-visibility female correspondents to the war zone. So it was soon Wood's turn.

One of the best-known correspondents of that war, male or female, was Kate Webb, a New Zealand-born Australian who began as a freelancer in Vietnam at 24 and so, as Wood explained to me of Webb, “her credentials were so strong UPI couldn't fail to hire her."
 
Kate WebbKate WebbThat was in 1967 when she was 25. Webb quickly proved her mettle, becoming the first wire service reporter at the U.S. Embassy on the morning the Tet offensive was launched in January 1968.

That spring she survived an American rocket attack on a Saigon military building that killed everyone around her, including the South Vietnamese police chief. She brushed herself off, ran back into the rubble to aid the wounded, then wrote a stirring account of the incident.

And Kate made news herself when in 1971 she was captured by North Vietnamese troops operating in Cambodia. Premature official reports that a body discovered was Webb's prompted a New York Times obituary, but she emerged from captivity 23 days after she was captured, having endured forced marches, interrogations, and malaria.  Of Wood’s getting to Vietnam, she explained to me: "I had to go over my boss' head to get sent to Vietnam and, once there, covered combat only after colleagues quietly showed me what I needed to do.”
 
Wood played a significant role involving coverage of the first public release of prisoners of war.  "I was able to cover the end of combat and was the only U.S. reporter to cover the first public release of the POWs from Hanoi," Wood recalled for me for one of my columns on her.

Perhaps it took a woman to figure out the quickest way to get approval to go to Hanoi at a time when every news agency and reporter was trying to figure out a way to get there. She merely sent a request to the North Vietnam government asking permission.
 
"Later, I was able to negotiate with the North Vietnamese for UPI to lease a plane and bring in about 30 reporters, photographers, and TV crews to cover the final POW release." Those POWs included John McCain.
 
Both Webb, who died of cancer in 2007, and Wood have chapters in "War Torn, Stories of War From the Women Reporters Who Covered Vietnam." It's a book whose contents are touted as "nine women who made journalism history talk candidly about their profession in deeply personal experiences as young reporters who lived, worked and loved surrounded by war."

A year after her death, Australia issued a postage stamp to commemorate Webb.  In reflecting on the conversations with Wood, and recalling the book in which both she and Webb had chapters of their recollections, it occurred to me they would have provided an interesting segment of Ken Burns’ Viet Nam documentary. Too bad.

When I asked my friend and one-time UPI colleague, Joe Galloway, one of the most respected Vietnam correspondents over his several tours there for UPI, about the women reporters, he summed it up thusly:

“Met and worked with Tracy Wood on my subsequent tours in Vietnam. Worked closely with Kate Webb and Betsy Halstead. Also knew Francis FitzGerald and Cathy Leroy,” Joe said.

“I had the greatest respect for the women who came to cover the war. They had different eyes and covered different stories...and that broadened everyone’s coverage of the war,” Galloway added.

“The ones I knew were fearless in combat and determined to get the story. I raise my Stetson in salute "
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Suzi LeVine, who oversaw the state's jobless pay disaster, takes Biden post

dept-of-labor-seal

Suzi LeVine, who oversaw this state’s unemployment-payments disaster last year, apparently is assuming a key role in the Biden Administration overseeing the agency that helps all 50 states manage unemployment benefits.

A Bloomberg news report Friday that she is assuming the key post as of today was the first word of the position she is taking although LeVine said when she resigned from her state post that she was taking a spot in the Biden Administration. But conservative media and commentators have already begun to howl.

Suzi LevineSuzi LevineSome may know that LeVine raised $400,000 for Biden’s election campaign and is said to have raised more than $2 billion for Barack Obama in his presidential campaign. And she plays a key role as Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Fundraising Committee.

Now there’s nothing unusual about presidents rewarding important friends as they fill out their administration and ambassador roles and Donald Trump did that to a major degree, in essence filling a swamp he promised to drain.

But with Biden, some of us came to expect a new order and LeVine’s appointment to a key position, rather than the ambassadorship to Switzerland and Lichtenstein that Obama gave her, seems to smell more like the old swamp.

The new job, interim assistant secretary of the Employment and Training Administration, would put LeVine at the forefront of the Biden administration’s economic response to the pandemic, which has cost the United States nearly 10 million jobs since February.

How much responsibility LeVine actually bears for this state’s unemployment disaster and the pain the department’s ineptitude cost those who lost their jobs might be determined by just examining the records.

Well, guess what. That’s precisely what respected Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner, my friend Lynn Brewer, who built a national reputation as a whistleblower for the Enron disaster 20 years ago, and the state auditor have been rebuffed in trying to do.

Brunner last week released a string of his Twitter messages, dating back seven months, detailing his unsuccessful effort to see LeVine emails to and from Gov. Jay Inslee. His frustration prompted him to observe in one such Twitter message that she was either incompetent or hiding something.

That’s basically the same conclusion reached by Brewer in her similar months-long effort, including now going to court, to get emails between LeVine and Inslee.

And while State Auditor Pat McCarthy, a respected Democratic state elected official, might agree with Brunner’s assessment after her battle to get records from LeVine’s office, she still has several ESD audits to complete before we get her analysis.

Lynn BrewerLynn BrewerBrewer is an interesting addition to this intriguing mix since she knows a few things about financial shenanigans and malfeasance from her days as an executive at Enron, which she departed a few months before the 2001 bankruptcy of what had been hailed as "America's most innovative company."
 
Thus when Brewer and her husband's unemployment checks were caught up in the ESD scheme and the resulting scandal, she expressed a sense of "I've been here before," with strong indignation in her voice
 
In her book, " Confessions of an Enron Executive: A Whistleblower’s Story," after her 2001 departure from Enron, she detailed what happened inside the company. And for several years, she was a sought-after national speaker on the topic of corporate integrity.
 
"This is a governance failure of Enron proportions," Brewer said.

"From my experience at Enron, I believe there are underlying issues with ESD that have not been revealed to the public or to the media," she added.

It would be a shame if those issues were brought out by Republican Senators at whatever point LeVine faces Senate approval to fill her role on a full-time basis. In fact, Democratic Senators should begin asking to have her come before the Senate for approval or rejection, for the sake of Biden’s integrity image. Or merely end her "interim" job with a departure.

As it stands, having LaVine carry the title of “interim” with no explanation from the Administration of why will soon become the target of any Republicans or conservative media seeking dirt on Biden. They are likely to ask “what are they hiding by not seeking her confirmation before the Senate?”

Fox News has proven adept at taking a molehill of Democratic dirt and turning it into a mountain. So what happens when Fox is handed a mountain to make something out of? A political volcano? If so who gets buried in the political ash that falls?

 
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COVID's work-from-home dynamic may fuel a boom in "ZoomTowns"

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The concept of Zoom Towns is the recently emerging phenomenon that has resulted from the COVID-19 impact as workers have adapted dramatically to working from home and “zooming” to work and thus relating to fellow employees in a new way.

The reality that is dawning on employees, particularly tech employees and professionals, is that if you can plan to work long term from home, then home can be distant from company headquarters and in virtually any appealing community they might like. And a lot of employers are coming to support that trend.

It’s becoming clear to leaders of large cities, particularly San Francisco but also Seattle, whose office core emptied out that those who were free to work remotely, or were instructed to do so by their employers, had found an option that may well transcend the eventual end of the pandemic. And that may change the future of those tall-building cores.

So welcome to Zoom Towns, scenic communities that are experiencing a surge of house hunters among those workers freed by COVID to work from home long term.

Some early-innovator communities experiencing the spurt in home and condo sales are coming to realize that a marketing campaign to let potential “zoomers” know what they have to offer could generate a boom in zoomers. And it’s a realization that will soon come to a growing number of appealing smaller communities, and even not so small.

Topeka, Kan., started Choose Topeka, which will reimburse new workers $10,000 for the first year of rent or $15,000 if they buy a home. Tulsa, Okla. will pay you $10,000 to move there.

Zoom Town isn’t yet a designation with broad familiarity. But I am betting it soon will be as early learners are realizing that the term “Zoom Towns” is new enough that it can be captured in the names of businesses emerging to provide services to those who wish to become part of the trend.

 I am actually working with friends and colleagues in several states to seize on that opportunity, including Seattle realtor Katrina Eileen Romatowski who has captured the name ZoomTownRealty with virtually every domain name extension that anyone might think of.

The man who chronicled the growth aspirations of small towns across America then became the evangelist for those communities that he called Boomtowns isn’t surprised at the emergence of Zoom Towns.

John M. (Jack) Schultz, who became the national guru of rural economic development in the 2000s decade for his research on thousands of small towns and his book, Boomtown USA: 7 ½ keys to Big Success in Small Towns, thinks Zoom Towns are a natural evolution for small towns. Except he agrees the post-pandemic role for them may be to supplant rather than just supplement the core of major cities as places to live and work.

The way he puts it is a community, whether urban center or smaller towns (which he notes can also be appealing suburbs of those major cities, like Bellevue or Kirkland), “need to have a sense of place, something that major cities have lost in the year of protests, loss of safe living areas and need for social distancing.”

 Schultz is the founder and CEO of Agracel Inc, which he began as a small farmland investment company in his hometown of Effingham, IL, in 1986. In 1993, Jack took a gigantic leap of faith with his first industrial development project and has never looked back.  

Schultz’s book was published in early 2004. The Boomtown USA project took more than three years of intense research beginning with 15,800 small towns across the country, he told me. The list was narrowed to an outstanding group of 397 towns, that Jack affectionately named AGURBS. He told me with a chuckle, as we visited on the phone a couple of weeks ago about the ZoomTown phenomenon, that he didn’t coin the phrase Boomtowns, merely made them known.

“But the term AGURBS is mine,” said Schultz, whom I met on the Internet when I began this column 13 years ago and discovered his blog and we became each other’s readers and sometimes quoted each other and I’ve done several columns on him.

Are there any boomtowns that could be likely ZoomTowns?

Likely one in this state, Schultz suggests, noting that Leavenworth was featured prominently in his book.

“Seven women who were a junior women’s club who didn’t have a clue to what they were doing made up their minds to turn around a town that was dying,” he recalled. “They had 11 families that had moved to Leavenworth from Bavaria because of the surrounding mountains and they became keys to the campaign to create a Bavarian Village.”

Today the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth, a two-hour drive from Seattle, is one of the state’s top tourist attractions and my bet is they will soon begin an effort to attract Zoomers as full-time residents.

Another place in this state, maybe less known than resort communities, that I'm betting will become a Zoom Town is Seabrook on the Washington coast but on the inland side of Highway 109 on an otherwise remote section of the oceanfront.

Seabrook, which creator Casey Roloff says he and his wife sought to create Mayberry when they set out to build their planned community, was already seeing dramatic growth before COVID. But the post-COVID work-from-home phenomenon may well make Seabrook like Zoom Town on steroids.

Referring to findings from his visits to hundreds of small towns to gather information for his book, Schultz told me in an email: "Embracing entrepreneurism in communities was a key factor that differentiated great communities from also-rans.”

So a question ZoomTown advocates will likely ask is “does remote work really work?”

A survey in August by the Boston Consulting Group found that 79 percent of the 12,000 employees questioned on remote work indicated they are satisfied or doing better on the four factors of social connectivity, mental health, physical health, and workplace tools. And they said they have been able to maintain or improve productivity on collaborative tasks.

 
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Neil Sheehan's book on Vietnam told of a far greater lie than Trump's finale

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It was ironic that the death at age 84 of prominent journalist Neil Sheehan, who chronicled the Bright Shiny Lie of President Lyndon Johnson’s conduct of the Vietnam War, should occur as the lie of the final chapter of the administration of Donald Trump was unraveling with the disastrous rampage by his followers at the Nation’s Capitol.

The riot through the Capitol last Wednesday was the response of Trump’s angry followers, convinced that the lie was that Trump had lost the election. And the rioters were only the criminal element of a legion of trump believers across the country.

For most of the country, the lie is Trump’s contending he won “by millions of votes,” despite the rejection of that idea by every judge, including many Trump had appointed, every governor of both parties called on to evaluate possible abuse in their state elections, every state election official who investigated allegations and found them false.

Many Republican members of Congress who had wished for Trump to win kept repeating their version of the lie as if somehow repetition could make it become true. Or at least confirm their loyalty to him.

In Lyndon Johnson’s case, the political professionalism with which the lie was carried out allowed the truth to come out only gradually and over years, It cost the lives of 55,000 American fighting men and untold pain, suffering, and destruction in the U.S. and in the nation’s of Southeast Asia.

Sheehan was one of a group of young men, and women, who covered the Vietnam War during the mid and late 1960s, first as bureau manager for United Press International and later for the New York Times, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1971 disclosure of the Pentagon Papers that revealed how U.S. government officials had lied to the American people about the Vietnam War.

The Nixon Administration tried unsuccessfully to keep the Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers. Nixon hadn’t created the massive lie but his administration had inherited it and, as the nation was being torn apart over the war, felt the need to continue it so that peace talks that had gotten underway in spring of 1968 soon after Johnson announced he would not seek re-election might eventually lead to an honorable exit for the U.S. But the Washington Post joined in the publishing, basically ignoring a court order, and the Supreme Court upheld the right of both newspapers to publish those documents.

The lie actually began three months before Johnson’s runaway victory over Barry Goldwater in 1964 and may have been motivated to rally voters behind a “wartime president,” although that has never been discussed As far as I can find.

It was August 2, 1964, that North Vietnam, which wasn’t yet the actual enemy at the time since the U.S. had not actually introduced combat troops into the effort to help South Vietnam’s war against the Viet Cong, handed Johnson the script for the lie. Two of its patrol torpedo (PT) boats fired shots at a U.S. destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin in international waters off the coast of the two Vietnams.

The incident wasn’t serious enough to merit a defense department response. But when a similar incident was reported two days later, it almost instantly led to Johnson asking Congress on August 7, with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, to give him the power to do whatever necessary, including the use of Armed Forces, to basically assist the South. The Johnson administration subsequently relied upon the resolution to begin its rapid escalation of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam and open warfare between the North and the United States.

Robert S. McNamara, LBJ’s defense secretary, in a 2003 documentary titled The Fog of War admitted that the August 2 incident hadn’t been significant enough to concern the Defense Department and that the August 4 incident “never happened.”

The U.S, Senate approved the resolution with little debate and with only Sens. Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska, both respected Democrats, voting “no.” Gruening, in 1968, wrote his own book on Vietnam, titled Vietnam Folly. But the vast majority of senators, who represented a Democrat super-majority, had no interest in clashing with LBJ.

The late Ray Herndon, who had been a UPI correspondent in Vietnam from 1962 to 1967, was 26 and already a veteran of covering the war when the event occurred. Herndon was one of several former UPI Vietnam correspondents with whom I became friends following my retirement from the Business Journal because we had all worked for the wire service at the same time. And all who worked at UPI shared the need to recall their time there as the best of our times, despite the fact we went on to successful careers in newspapers and even though our roles were entirely different, they made names for themselves in the combat zone and I a political writer in Olympia.

A couple of years before his 2015 death from cancer at the age of 77and I asked Herndon, for a column I was writing, how news of the incident was greeted by the then-small press corps.

“there was a great deal of skepticism among the press corps in Saigon about the incident,”: Herndon told me. “We all thought ‘that’s pretty unlikely,’ but we had no way to actually question it.”

Before long, U.S, forces began to grow and the military propaganda machine cranked up. Sheehan and the Associated Press correspondent, Malcolm Browne, served an unrecognized vital role for U.S. media of handling the releases spewing from the propaganda machine judiciously.

Another of those UPI correspondents who became a friend was Joe Galloway, who was the only journalist who participated in and wrote about the first actual battle between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces in the Ia Drang Valley in November of 1965. His book on the battle, We Were Soldiers Once..and Young, and the movie made from it, We Were Soldiers made it one of the best-known battles of the war. It was the battle that may have provided fodder to make the lie one that would last forever in this nation’s history.

As Galloway later wrote, It was defining because it "convinced Ho(Chi Minh), (General) Giap and (Defense Secretary Robert S.) McNamara the U.S. could never win." The realization of both sides was that the American citizenry would not accept for a long period the pace of casualties that the companion battles in the Ia Drang Valley produced.

 
Although President Johnson, having listened to McNamara's sense that we couldn't win in Viet Nam, no matter how many men we sent there, huddled with his key advisors and they determined: "send the soldiers anyway," said Galloway, who only speaks of LBJ’s memory in four-letter words.

Before long, as U.S. forces went into battle against the Viet Cong and sometimes with units from the north, “body count” became the way to keep track of how the U.S, forces were doing, with no one to verify the count and growing pressure to just boost the numbers.

Sheehan and Browne dug out details about battlefield casualties and wrote dispatches that challenged upbeat reports from the daily press briefings that came to be ridiculed as “Five O’Clock Follies.”

Generals labeled Sheehan a liar and politicians called him unpatriotic and claimed that his reports were even detrimental to national security.
 
When he received the Drew Pearson prize for excellence in investigative reporting in 1971, Sheehan said: “Some would have us believe that in publishing the Pentagon Papers we committed theft and treason. I believe that in publishing this history of the Vietnam War, we gave to the American people … a small accounting of a debt that can never be repaid.”

It took Sheehan 16 years to finally complete Bright Shiney Lie to tell the whole story.
 
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Lengthy effort to get documents in jobless-payment snafu leads to suit

washington-state-capitol

If the suit against the state Employment Security Department by a woman best described as a professional whistleblower is successful, it will be fair to say, objectively rather than as a political comment, that Gov. Jay Inslee is a slow learner. Only this time the failure to learn may cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.

Four years ago the recalcitrance of one of his department heads in dealing with a public disclosure request from the Seattle Times brought a court rebuke and a fine. Now a delayed public disclosure response related to the state’s unemployment disaster could bring the court down harder.

The failure of the governor to learn relates to the months-long effort by Lynn Brewer to get access to emails between Inslee and his now embattled Employment Security Department (ESD) Commissioner Suzie LeVine. Brewer gained prominence after leaving a budding career as an executive at energy giant Enron before its 2001 bankruptcy to become a high-visibility whistleblower.

Brewer has been seeking to determine the extent of responsibility by LeVine, and what Inslee knew, of the employment security disaster that rocked the state after COVID-19 struck. First thieves pirated $650-million in unemployment insurance from the state as people started losing their jobs by the thousands, then thousands didn’t get their unemployment checks, or got them dramatically late, as ESD tried to figure out how to avoid further fraud.

Now that State Auditor Pat McCarthy’s criticism of LeVine for imposing “significant constraints” on audit staff, including seeking to limit interviews and delaying access to documents, have become public, the media has come to be all over this. And that media scrutiny is bound to move upward toward Inslee.

In June Brewer was told that her public disclosure request for the emails between Inslee and LeVine and between the ESD director and her staff, because of the mountain of documents involved, couldn’t be honored until December 31, almost seven months later. Some might chuckle at the point that would be after the November election, perhaps ensuring that Inslee’s quest for a third term couldn’t be hindered by anything in the emails.

In her lawsuit filed a couple of weeks ago in Thurston County Superior Court, Brewer asks for a court order that ESD “has violated the Public Records Act” and asks for “an award of statutory penalties, fees and costs against the Department.”

I asked Brewer why she filed the suit given the promised delivery date ESD and she said first, that the delay was illegal and, second, there was only the ESD statement that she couldn’t get the emails before December 31, not that she would get them then.

The lesson unlearned relates to the fact that Inslee has been here before, four years ago with a different department, Labor and Industries, in a public disclosure request by the Seattle Times, in which it took The Times months to get the documents it sought.

In that 2016 decision, the state high court upheld a $546,509 superior court judgment against L&I, finding that it repeatedly delayed the release of records related to lead exposure at Wade’s Eastside Gun Shop.

The department, meaning the state, was ordered to pay the money to The Times, plus attorney fees because monetary penalties are possible under state law for the failure of agencies to respond to public disclosure requests in a timely manner.

The Times was moved to muse editorially after that 2016 victory: “The remaining questions are whether Gov. Jay Inslee will hold anyone accountable for this costly violation of state law and how the state will prevent this from happening again.”

For a longtime reporter, there’s a disappointment that this story has eluded the media for months, except for a drip here and a drop there, until McCarthy’s statements brought the media attention on LeVine and her agency, but not yet on the governor, into full force.

So now perhaps some reporter will ask Inslee: “Governor, when did you know about the auditor’s concerns and when you learned, why didn’t you say to your ESD commissioner, ‘get your act together, Suzie or you are gone?’”

It’s important to keep in mind that we are talking here about a prominent Democratic fundraiser since LeVine raised millions for every Democratic presidential candidate starting with Obama and extending through the candidates who ran in 2020.
And in fairness to the media, both print and broadcast, the coverage requirements of 2020 from the virus to the marches and riots to the economy to the tragic stories of the jobless left little space or time available for an investigative look at why the jobless disaster was unfolding.

I may benefit from having known Brewer for more than a decade, first as she gained prominence in the wake of the collapse of Enron. Her book Confessions of an Enron Executive: A Whistleblower’s Story chronicled her experiences and observations during her two-and-a-half years as a mid-level executive. Her duties included providing key personal briefings on new investments for Enron's now-infamous duo, CEO Ken Lay and President Jeff Skilling.

So she reached out to me after her husband’s and her request for unemployment got caught up in the ESD tangled web and I did a column in the spring and waited for other media to get on the story.

Lynn BrewerLynn BrewerAnd it’s important to note that, as is sometimes, unfortunately, the case these days, Brewer is not some rightwing agitator trying to get Inslee, whom she says she voted for twice, "but not this time because he's responsible for what happened to the unemployed."

In fact, she’s spent her years since leaving Enron after she became aware of the malfeasance of its leadership, speaking to groups and organizations around the world. Brewer was called upon not only to recount the lessons of her Enron experience but more importantly to her, is to share her vision of a way that provides the equivalent of a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" on the integrity of public companies.

And it’s with a combination of amusement and anger that Brewer notes the irony of last week’s anniversary of the 2001 fall of Enron when it went out of business as its financial illegalities were disclosed.

“This is a bigger disaster than Enron,” she told me. “Enron was a $600-million fraud on its shareholders. This is a $650-million fraud on taxpayers.”

“If the court decides there will be a per-page, per day, fine and ESD indicates there are tens of thousands of pages that had to be processed, you do the math,” said Brewer. “The state could be liable for millions of dollars because no one was in charge of this.”

 
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Quest for 20 to honor for COVID creativity and caring strategies

BellevueSkyline2020

It should have come as no surprise that our quest for nominations for The 20 of 2020 Awards to recognize creative and caring contributions by business people to our communities during COVID-19 would make it clear that prominent givers connect with dozens of equally committed individuals to carry out the giving.

One of those I refer to as creative givers that I reached out to is longtime Bellevue business leader Joan Wallace, who explained to me that what has gone on across her community and the region is "loving and caring people intersecting at the crossroads of need."

Sharon BloomeIn fact, Wallace sought to dispel what seems to be a growing sense that darkness is settling over the mood of the country that is due to more than the impact of COVID-19.

"What we see on the news leads us to believe that we have devolved into tribalism, segregating ourselves into silos where we acknowledge only those who look and believe as we do. My experience tells another story," Wallace told me in an email.

Two other friends that I connected with to help me plum the depth of the giving now going on were Katrina Eileen Romatowski, whose Katrina Eileen Real Estate is the only Benefit Corp, or social-purpose corporation, in her industry in this state, and longtime activist and philanthropist Sharon Gantz Bloome.

Interestingly, these three won't have known each other until they meet in this Harp, indicating people who carry a heavy load of giving don't sit around visiting about their giving.

In sharing the three interviews, I'll start with Wallace's admonition to set the stage: "I will share some of our adventures with the caveat that you make it clear to your readers that our efforts are just one small cog in a massive set of interlocking gears silently at work across this community.". We are just one example of thousands of families responding to needs as we become aware of them."

So I'll be back with Wallace but first want to introduce the other two interviewees.

Meet my longtime friend, Sharon Bloome, whom I became aware of decades ago after she moved to the Northwest in 1984 and co-founded Heart of America Northwest, which became the leading citizens' watchdog group for the cleanup of Hanford.

As chairman of the Rotary Club of Seattle's Environmental Committee, she co-produced an environmental guide for the business community entitled "Going Green: A Guide to Becoming An Environmentally Friendly Business Without Going Broke." Because of it, she was nominated for a United Nations Global 500 Award.

She spearheaded the mission of bringing computer skills to Seattle's inner-city children at the Rotary Boys & Girls Club, whose Computer Learning Center is named the Sharon Gantz Bloome Computer Learning Center. It's dedication plaque reads -- "Built by many, but delivered by the vision and tenacity of one."

Because she has Dyslexia, Bloome invested early this year to help create a teacher training program at Heritage University in Toppenish for a master's degree in inclusive education with a focus that includes Dyslexia and is the only program of its kind on the West Coast.

And when the coronavirus hit, and the program had to move online, Bloome says she believed the program "is just too important to go on hiatus even as we turned our attention to the pandemic and I am pleased to have played a part in its continued success." That meant financial support for the students.

Noting her view of the continued support of the degree at Heritage, Bloome said: "we must not completely lose focus on the post-covid-19 world. There are people who suffer across an array of issues great and small that we must continue to fight for."

An ongoing commitment of Bloome's was her personal support for a largely poor and Hispanic catholic parish in South King County, for which she regularly provided parishioners with food, clothing, and furniture.

 "Not Catholic, never was and never will be." chuckled the board member of the American Jewish World Service. "That doesn't matter. What matters is humanity and easing suffering in whatever way possible, wherever possible."

Then came COVID, of which she said, "I can't fix Covid. I wish I could. But I can help ease suffering for some families. The most elemental need is for people to eat. And so that's where I went, making it possible for the church to offer grocery gift cards and boxed assorted groceries to distribute to families in need."

Katrina Eileen is actually one of the creators and sponsors of The 20 of 2020 event, which is to be held February 11 at the Columbia Tower Club if live events return by then, or the evident honoring the 20 will be virtual. So she's not eligible to be among the 20, although her actions exemplify what we're looking for in potential honorees.

Katrina EileenMore than a decade ago, Katrina Eileen began a focus on aiding foster youth, culminating with her creation of a non-profit called Level Up, which is a housing and mentoring program for at-risk youth ages 18 to 24 who have aged out of the foster-care system.

In the face of the early struggles and fears people faced, Katrina Eileen decided to create a safe place for people in a Facebook group she called Real Kindness. It was a place people had a chance to share kind acts that they knew were occurring around the community, and she offered $1,000 a week for the posts with the most likes. One winner went on to be an overnight YouTube sensation, "Dad How Do I," a YouTube channel that soon had 400,000 hits.

Long a believer in the United Nations Global Goals, the first two of which are the end poverty in all its forms and to end hunger, she has partnered with a non-profit called Unify in a campaign that she calls Share the Number Love. It's an initiative to encourage people to pick one of the 17 global goals and share them on social media.

Now back to Joan Wallace, whose involvements accelerated by COVID start with Jubilee REACH, a Bellevue non-profit focused on "building a caring community in and around schools to meet the social and emotional needs of students and their families

"Since last March, individual families all across the greater Eastside have been showing up at Jubilee REACH every single week with a couple of bags of groceries that are immediately placed in the hands of waiting, needy people," Wallace said. "There are 26 Eastside churches involved in this effort where every week one family feeds another."

Then there's Congregation for the Homeless, a shelter for homeless men in downtown Bellevue, which had only been open six months a year until the current need made it clear the need for food and shelter would stretch through the winter,

So the Wallace's son, Kevin, former Bellevue City Council member, reached out to the community and raised the equivalent of $2 million in labor and supplies to get the building up to code in time to get open for the winter.

Meanwhile, Joan and Bob picked up when the previous process of volunteers preparing meals was ended by the virus and had to be replaced, but not totally, by area churches and groups providing food. Joan had to find Maggiano's Restaurant and Costco to fill food need for two nights a week, supported by $5,000 from her and Bob.

Bob and Joan WallaceThe Wallace outreach wasn't limited to the Eastside since a minister friend from an African-American church in the Rainier Valley told her of a low-income apartment building that he had built as one of the church's community enterprises that housed a mostly Muslim community.

Her conversations with the minister "revealed a need for baby diapers, wipes, and toilet tissue. I put out an email request to my neighbors as our daughter, Kim, did in hers. In one week, our collective neighbors donated enough to fill three large SUVs, so our entire family caravaned to the Rainier Valley to deliver the goods."

So as Wallace summed up of her family's involvements: "We are just one example of thousands of families responding to needs as we become aware of them."

It's those examples of creative giving that we are looking for by the deadline of December 1.

Marketingnnw.com, for three decades, the print bible of the Northwest marketing community and the digital format that replaced it on January 1, 2018, will produce a print supplement and online version with stories on the event and each of those selected.

The goal for this event, best summed up by a friend helping me assist in putting a similar focus on a San Diego event, is to seek out "those who combined success and sacrifice in a model that will become the new order. And in doing so, we begin to set a new standard for business people."

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Kirkland company's plan for rail-car energy-storage concept fuels renewable-energy interest

ARES-Nevada-Project

The decade-long quest of two Seattle businessmen and the team of prominent investors they have attracted to create a unique new method for generating renewable energy is about to bear fruit in the form of rock-filled rail cars plying a Southern Nevada mountain.

Advanced Rail Energy Storage North America (ARES) is the Kirkland-based company that Spike Anderson, self-described “serial entrepreneur,” and Seattle attorney Art Harrigan created to funnel the millions of dollars they raised over the last 10 years to bring the project to fruition.

Howard TrottThe ARES Nevada project, located near Pahrump, about 60 miles west of Las Vegas, is the first of what they expect will be a series of similar energy-generating projects around the country, to help states meet their increasingly stringent renewable-energy goals.

“Those renewable-energy goals are not merely for the states, but are for the planet,” Anderson offered in a reference to the broader and increasingly pervasive issue of climate change that clean, renewable-energy initiatives are seeking to address.

For example, the broad success of ARES’ concept could eliminate the need for any more hydroelectric projects, and perhaps end the need for some existing hydro projects.

It’s likely the broader global goal is behind the commitment of time and money that Anderson and Harrigan, as well as retired Costco CEO Jim Sinegal and Car Toys founder Dan Bretler have committed.

Add to those names two key executives of a Denver conglomerate, Thermo Companies. Thermo was attracted as a major financial partner because of a business relationship between ARES North America CEO Howard Trott and Jay Monroe, who guides some of the numerous companies under the Thermo corporate umbrella. Another key Thermo executive directly involved in the funding is Kyle Pickens, Thermo vice president for strategy and development.

Trott has more than 25 years of experience developing and operating a wide range of energy projects, real estate investments, and other business ventures, including doing projects for telecommunication pioneer Craig McCaw for two decades.

Among his projects for McCaw was the successful conversion of James Island, a 780-acre island in the gulf of British Columbia to a model of environmental sustainability.

Anderson credits Trott with “getting us headed in the right direction, including reengineering our system, for which we have patents.”

ARES Nevada actually named the Gamebird Pit for the gravel pit from which the rail cars are filled with rock, is an affiliate of ARES North America.

A groundbreaking was held last week for the project, the first of what ARES has branded as GravityLine energy storage facilities. This one will generate up to 50 megawatts of stored electricity for 15 minutes in 30-minute cycles, enough to power 50,000 homes for those minutes.

The construction phase of the GravityLine facility begins in December and will take about a year to bring on line with the power generated into the California energy grid to California Independent System Operator for the purpose of stabilizing the grid.

From afar the railcars arrayed up and down the hillside may look like bugs scurrying around a small hill. But the reality is that each of the approximately 200 cars weighs 720,000 pounds and is 20 feet long, 16-feet wide, and 15 feet deep, making their way up and down a mountain.

ARES GravityLine’s fixed motor, chain-drive system, similar to how a rollercoaster operates, draws electricity from the grid to drive mass cars uphill against the force of gravity. That converts electrical energy into potential mechanical energy and when the grid requires power, this process is reversed and the cars proceed downhill with the electric motors operating as generators, thereby converting the potential mechanical energy back into electricity.

GravityLine’s storage systems are made up of multiple 5MW tracks and can vary in size from 5 MW to 1 GW of power and an equivalent range of energy depending upon weight and number of rail cars, slope, and distance.

This is a small project, what’s called an ancillary services installation, which basically means it will be used to balance the grid, leveling out peaks and valleys of power generated by renewable resources like solar and wind.

but the profits for ARES will flow from long-duration storage, up to 10 hours, and more, at utility-scale projects around the country.

The challenge, of course, for the renewable energy of wind and solar is that the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. But the gravity that drives ARES’ projects is always there.

A quarter-scale proof-of-concept model of the ARES Nevada project was brought on line at Tehachapi, in the mountains east of Bakersfield, CA, in 2013.

With that model, which attracted interest from utilities around the country, the motors were on the cars’ driving wheels on the track just like a train. But the problem, Anderson explained, was “too much weight or too steep a grade, causing the wheels to lose traction.”

Trott’s re-engineering solved that problem by using chain and sprockets, thus giving positive contact.

Anderson noted that the chain system can go much steeper than the original 7.5 percent, adding “The system is pretty much infinitely scalable.”

Anderson and Harrigan own the technology with both being major shareholders of ARES, Anderson as lead investor and board member, and Harrigan, who first introduced Anderson to the technology in 2010, as chairman.

Despite the fact they’ve been friends for decades, they bring dramatically different business backgrounds to ARES.

Anderson, for years, was a large Kirkland Signature products supplier for Costco and was Costco's largest supplier by the time he sold his company.

Harrigan had key roles in saving both the Seattle Mariners and the Seahawks because Harrigan’s law firm represented King County and the county-owned the Kingdome, which the two professional sports teams were threatening to vacate by leaving town. Harrigan’s legal maneuvers, for which he basically got no visibility until I wrote a column five years ago, forced the two out-of-town owners to sell the team to local buyers (see Flynn’s Harp: Art Harrigan).

In discussing the fact that the ARES projects are based on gravity, Anderson quipped that “gravity is always with us. It’s been important for a long time, going way back to Sisyphus,” referring to the ancient Greek legend of the king condemned by the gods to spend eternity rolling a large boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down the hill and be forced to push it up again.

 
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Seattle identity for business ... once of value, now eroded and maybe gone.

Port-of-Seattle

 When Expedia announced five years ago it was moving its headquarters from Downtown Bellevue to the Seattle waterfront, the company's then-CEO Dara Khosrowshahi explained that a local company that did business nationally should have Seattle in its identity, as in "Seattle-based."

It was a sense proudly shared by many residents and business leaders and did, in fact, serve to attract businesses to relocate, in part to attract employees also drawn to the image Seattle nurtured.

But in the follow-on to this year of coronavirus decimation of the economy and the Seattle riots that brought a response from the city's elected officials of, basically, "let them alone, their cause is right," there's likely to be an effort by many, most importantly the business community, to seek to avoid a Seattle identity. For some, that will even mean relocating their business. to be based elsewhere.

The major example of that is the headlong rush by Amazon to build its Bellevue presence by millions of square feet. The company, with thousands of employees at its Seattle headquarters, doesn't have to announce it is moving. After all, there will be possible executive offices in the Bellevue locations and employee growth at several Eastside Amazon locations.

Smaller but equally meaningful examples abound. A real estate friend of mine who recently sold the home of a family that moved from Seattle to Boise said they contacted her after the move to say they had been treated like refugees by those they met in the Idaho capital. As in, "What was it like there?" "What can we do to make you feel welcome here?"

And a friend who is a member of a national non-profit board said the recent virtual board meeting was filled with questions relating to the image of Seattle that is now extant, as in "is it even half as bad as we read and hear?"

The fact that the vast majority of protesters were peaceful was to the credit of those who organized the marches, mostly to espouse Black Lives Matter.

But the fact that Seattle leaders refused to come down hard on those who were violent, for fear of seeming to be not liberal enough if they cracked down on those bent primarily on destruction, will linger over Seattle's image until the electorate changes the face of the city council. And maybe the mayor who guides the city.

Some say that change isn't likely to happen and point as evidence of that to the re-election of Kashama Sawant last fall despite the fact she is the most incendiary far-left figure on the council. Or in elective office in this state, perhaps ever.

Maybe she is what the Seattle that is emerging wants.
 
John Powers
One of the earliest proponents of the importance of an organization getting the Seattle name to the fore was John Powers, the one-time Spokane mayor who was picked in 2004 to be the new executive director of the Seattle-King County Economic Development Council.

He convinced EDC board members, many from Seattle's suburbs, that the organization should be renamed Enterprise Seattle and for three years guided business recruitment efforts convinced that Seattle in the name had broad appeal.

Powers followed that Enterprise Seattle role with nine years as executive director of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance before retiring last month and moving back home to Spokane to join in commercial real estate activity in partnership with his son, John Powers III.

Despite the fact that he will now be among those seeking to woo Seattle firms to move elsewhere, like maybe Eastern Washington, he remains a Seattle defender. He is convinced that while Seattle's image afar is now damaged, "I know how the political winds shift and long-term, I'm convinced Seattle's political pendulum will swing back toward the middle."

"Sawant is not the future of Seattle," he said, clearly intending to note the major image problem for Seattle is really a political problem.

"Seattle needs to find a unifier to guide the city back to that appealing image."

But the growing conviction that emergence from COVID-19 may include continuing the work-from-home factor is certain to challenge the return of Seattle's downtown to what used to be the normal of crowds of workers converging into the core.

And it's not just the possible appeal of living and working for a Seattle business from a home in Chelan, Ellensburg, Leavenworth, or Spokane; it's the likelihood of businesses themselves relocating.

That becomes a particular threat in the face of intent by the city's elected officials to find taxes that will impose the cost of fixing Seattle's ills on business, which are often pictured by too many of those City Council members as evil, greedy and self-serving.

Bellevue, for example, could do a much better job of marketing itself to those businesses already wondering if they should relocate but uncertain how to go about developing the idea.
But mounting a campaign targeting Seattle businesses obviously couldn't be implemented until a post-COVID time.

But proof that a Bellevue plan should be taking shape was my being told by the CEO of one Seattle-based regional company, "I really think we should move out of Seattle, but I'm not sure how to pursue that."

One possible idea for Bellevue business leaders  would be that all marketing materials should include a reference to "Seattle's premier side, the Eastside."

And pitching the difference by how the two cities have responded to the issue of pillage and destruction accompanying the protests is an emerging opportunity.

As indicated earlier, the idea of allowing law enforcement to enforce the law was greeted in Seattle with a "leave them alone, or we'll appear not liberal enough," accompanied by a willingness to force out with ill-treatment a widely respected black police chief.

In Bellevue, however, a police chief is in charge who understood the difference between peaceful protestors (with whom he actually met and spent time with during the demonstrations) and "an organized criminal network...clocking themselves as peaceful protesters."

Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett, in a video report to the community soon after the May 31 night of mayhem, explained that Bellevue experienced "a riot by more than a thousand criminals and opportunists who converged on the downtown core intent on causing destruction."

Mylett said he has ordered Bellevue police detectives "to identify and arrest as many of these offenders as possible" and added that anyone who wished could go to the police homepage to "upload any video or pictures from May 31 that would help us identify suspects."

Mylett said, "we have referred over 63 cases related to the riots and looting in Bellevue for prosecution, to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office."

 
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A hope that recalling 9/11 unity can remind us of what unity looks like

911-memorial

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Perhaps nothing can help remind this divided nation what unity looks like more than to recall the manner in which the citizens of this country, supported by the citizens of virtually every nation, came together united in grief over the tragedy of that 2001 September day etched forever in our minds as 9/11.
Toward the goal of providing that reminder, I share again, as I first did in a Harp on the 10th anniversary of that day and again on the 15th anniversary, and each year since then the piece written by a former, now late, United Press International colleague named Al Webb.


From his post in UPI's London bureau, Webb recapped days later the grief that poured out for us from across the globe. It has become my annual reminder of that display of shared pain out of a sense that we deserve to be reminded. Or rather it is required that we be reminded.)

 ------------  
 
By Al Webb
LONDON (UPI) -- A small girl with a Cockney accent shyly waved a tiny American flag, and a queen brushed away a tear. In a Scottish town that has known its own tragedy, a lone church bell tolled. On a German river, foghorns sounded a low moan.
 
Across countries and continents, waves of sympathy for a nation in anguish rolled on. A young woman in a Kenyan park wept over the sad headlines in newspapers spread on the ground. A one-time terrorist donated blood for the victims. Hundreds stood in line in cities from Dublin to Moscow to sign books of condolences.  
 
And over the outpouring of grief and mourning for the lives lost in the boiling flames and rubble of the World Trade Center towers and a wing of the Pentagon, time and again came the strains of "The Star-Spangled Banner," sometimes in places where it had never been sung before.
 
In a gesture reminiscent of John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner," symbolizing his solidarity with another troubled people a half century ago, the Paris newspaper Le Monde perhaps summed it up best: "We are all Americans."
 
In London, where the little girl with the funny accent and her American flag pressed her damp face against the gates, the band performing the traditional Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace suddenly did something it had never done before -- it struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner."
 
 For 45 minutes, the Mall in front of the palace became a little piece of America for hundreds of its citizens who were there because there were no planes to take them home. And the band of the Coldstream Guards played on.
 
As tear-stained faces lifted and sang along, as Americans and British and other nationals waved Old Glory, the marches rolled -- "The Liberty Bell" after the national anthem, followed by "The Washington Post March" and "Semper Fidelis" and finally, heart-rendingly, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."
 
What the Coldstream Guards had triggered was the greatest mass demonstration of grief in Britain since Princess Diana was killed in a car crash four years ago. And as with Diana's death, a carpet of flowers, children's toys, poems, letters, all illuminated by tiny candles, built up this time at the fortress-like U.S. Embassy in London.
 
Amid the hundreds of bouquets, a single American flag was wrapped around a tree. One woman pressed her tear-dampened lips to its fringe in a soft kiss.  
 
The sweeping tide of mourning reached its crescendo at 11 o'clock Friday morning when Britain, France, Germany, and scores of other countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia went silent for three minutes, in honor of the innocent dead in America.
 
In Paris, the elevator at the Eiffel Tower stopped halfway to the top. Buses, trams, and cars halted in their tracks across the continent.
 
In Spain, more than 650 city and town halls became gathering centers for tens of thousands who bent their heads in silent prayer -- and then, at the end of the three minutes, they lifted their eyes and applauded in that people's traditional tribute to the victims of terrorism.
 
On the River Elbe leading into Hamburg, ships flew their flags at half-mast. The minutes of silence crept by -- and at the end were broken by the sound of a thousand foghorns rolling across the water into the city's very heart.
 
In Lockerbie, Scotland, there was no applause, no singing, no bands, only the ringing of a single church bell, and the flutter of flags at half-mast. This is a town with singular links to America, forged in a terrorist attack in the skies 13 years ago.
 
In all, according to an estimate by The Daily Telegraph newspaper in London, some 800 million people across Europe joined in the three minutes of silence.
 
At Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, once part of a dividing line between freedom and tyranny, a crowd of some 200,000 -- among them Germans whose relatives had died in terrorist attacks -- gathered beneath a black banner bearing the words, "We Mourn With You."
 
In Paris, crowds jammed the Place de la Concorde, itself a symbol of reconciliation, while church bells rang for five minutes before the silence.
 
In the government's Elysee Palace, "The Star-Spangled Banner" rang out, while over the French airwaves, radio stations played John Lennon's "Imagine."
 
The bankers of Switzerland are not noted for their sentimentality, so they dealt in their own currency. At the end of the three minutes of silence, they announced they were donating more than $500,000 to the families of the victims of the atrocities in America.  
 
Lloyd's of London, the insurance market-based in the British capital and one of several insurers of the World Trade Center, rang its Lutine bell and observed a minute of silence in memory of the dead in America -- some of them in the several broker offices Lloyd's has -- had -- in the WTC.  
 
In Belfast, the bullets and bombs of Northern Ireland's own form of terrorism, known as sectarian violence, went silent as tens of thousands from both sides of the divide -- Roman Catholic and Protestant - gathered in front of a makeshift stage at City Hall, to stand in silent tribute.
 
It is a city that knows the heartache of terrorism. "We have suffered for 33 years," said Betty McLearon. "People here have to be admired for the way they can cope with it. It will take the people in New York a long time to get over this."
 
In Moscow, the Russians observed a minute's silence as they laid wreaths and floral tributes outside the U.S. Embassy, once a symbol of the Cold War. Thousands of Muscovites lined up patiently to sign books of condolences.
 
In turbulent Israel, a nurse gently inserted a needle into the right arm of Yasser Arafat, himself a one-time terrorist who is now head of the Palestinian Authority. In a demonstration of support, he was donating blood to help the American injured.
 
Back in London, the minutes of silence were followed by a service of remembrance in the capital's majestic St. Paul's Cathedral, led by Queen Elizabeth II herself. In the audience of 2,400 inside, Americans hoisted the Stars and Stripes for the rest of the world to see via television.
 
Outside the cathedral, the tens of thousands who could not get in waved their own tiny flags and listened over the loudspeakers that carried the words and music for blocks around.  The cathedral's huge organ rumbled into life, to open the service, appropriately, with the American national anthem.
 
Then something happened that has never happened before, certainly not in public and doubtless not even in private. Softly, the queen began to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
 
Now, the British monarch does not "sing" national anthems. When they are played, she never even opens her mouth. Until now.
 
 But Queen Elizabeth sang it all, this song whose words were written 187 years ago during Britain's last war with her lost American colonies, through the final words, "O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave." With the last note, the queen gently brushed away a tear.
 
(Al Webb died in January 2015 at the age of 79 after a UPI career that ranged from the civil rights struggles to Vietnam's battlefields to the Houston Space Center. But he might well be best remembered for this piece of moving reportage whose rereading stirs a compelling question about whether the global regard for us that the outpouring of affection evidenced remains our national treasure. Or has it become a squandered legacy.)
 
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Angel-investor leaders applaud SEC's new 'accredited investor' definition

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Angel investor leaders are applauding a Securities and Exchange Commission decision that essentially adds brainpower to wealth as qualifications to be "accredited investor." The decision is seen as a key to bringing more investors to the capital market at a time when the COVID-decimated economy needs a dramatic assist, as well as in the future.
 
Those angel leaders in the Northwest and elsewhere that I reached out to for comment saw the decision as an "enlightened" action by the federal regulatory body and one likely to bring much-needed capital to early-stage companies.
 
What the SEC did earlier this month was amend its "accredited investor" definition to allow investors to qualify based on defined measures of professional knowledge, experience, or certifications in addition to the nearly four-decades-old tests for income and net worth.  
 
"For the first time, individuals will be permitted to participate in our private capital markets not only based on their income or net worth but also based on established, clear measures of financial sophistication," said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, in a statement accompanying the August 19 announcement.  
 
An accredited investor is an individual or a business entity that is allowed to trade securities, often higher risk, that may not be registered.
 
Prior to this SEC decision, investors needed to earn at least $200,000 in annual income ($300,000 for married couples), or have $1 million in net assets, excluding their primary residence, to count as "accredited."  
 
For decades, the SEC had allowed only the wealthy to make private venture investments, largely because of their presumed greater ability to sustain losses and fend for themselves. 

After this change, having sufficient "knowledge and expertise" is all it takes.
 
"This enlightened SEC action will pave the way for thoughtful sophisticated investors to invest in the startup community and bring much-needed capital into very early-stage companies," said Bill Payne, viewed by many as the nation's dean of angel investors. Payne has not only invested in a number of Northwest startups but has launched angel-investor groups in a number of cities.
 
"There are 400 angel groups in the U.S. in all kinds of different neighborhoods: urban, rural, academic. cross-border, etc.," added Payne, who in addition to his angel-investor leadership in this country spent a year in New Zealand, at the invitation of that nation's government, teaching angel investing. "I am sure some ecosystems will choose to focus on sophisticated investors."
 
"My angel colleagues generally welcome this regulatory improvement because it will bring more business-literate shareholders to the high-risk equity sector," said longtime investment leader John Fluke, chairman of Fluke Capital, which he has guided since its founding in 1981. "And perhaps it will induce high-risk equity enterprises to develop more pragmatic and realistic business plans."
 
"That definition now includes individuals with specific investment subject-matter expertise, regardless of whether such individuals met traditional annual income and net worth criteria," added Fluke, who is now mostly involved in angel investing.
 
"I am pretty excited about this SEC action," enthused Elizabeth Marchi, whom I have described in several columns as "Montana's queen of angel investing" because she oversaw three angel groups in the state from her and husband, Jon's, cattle ranch near Polson.
 
Marchi, who now serves as the head of marketing for an interesting new White Fish-based venture fund named Two Bear Capital, said the decision "embodies Chairman Clayton's attitude that there shouldn't be arbitrary thresholds. This will help reach innovators and problem solvers beyond the ecosystem centers."
 
Richard Sudek, chairman emeritus of Tech Coast Angels, whose 400 members spread across units in five Southern California counties make it the nation's largest angel group, said the SEC decision "will likely allow significant additional investment capital to flow into an economy at this virus-impacted time."
 
"However, this decision could have an important long-lasting impact beyond the pandemic," added Sudek, who in his post-angel career helped guide creation of the Applied Innovation Center at U-Cal Irvine and serves as its executive director and Chief Innovation Officer. "It could accelerate small business starts as well as help small businesses grow quicker and larger."
 
"I do feel the expansion offers an opportunity to grow the private investment community for early-stage companies," offered Brianna McDonald, who with her husband, Nathan, guides the Northwest chapter of the international angel investor network, Keiretsu. He is CEO and managing partner and she is president of the Keiretsu Forum Northwest.
 
"As a membership organization we depend a lot on leveraging others' experiences and expertise and over the years we have called on these individuals to help with diligence, but they would do the work and not be able to participate in the investment," she said. "With the potential pool opening, we now need to put an even bigger focus on education."
 
In an example of the perpetual dynamic tension on the five-member commission over its conflicting roles of facilitating capital formation while protecting investors, the two Democrat appointees voted against the decision, saying it could leave investors vulnerable.
 
Gary Ritner, founder and president of the Puget Sound Venture Club, the Seattle angel group that celebrates its 35th anniversary this fall, suggested there was some legitimacy to the concerns of the SEC's minority.
 
"With statistics indicating that on average half of the deals that attract angel investment go broke in the first two years," said Ritner. "Long term, an investor will likely make money, but how many of this type of investor can emotionally live with the potential of the early losses."
 
But having offered those thoughts, Ritner shared with me the strongly positive reaction of the Angel Capital Association (ACA),
The North American professional organization of active accredited investors.  
 
"This action will significantly impact the availability of capital to cutting-edge innovative start-up companies that are the foundation for job creation in our nation," said the ACA.

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Recalling the story that defined Slade Gorton's integrity and focus on equality

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In the wake of Slade Gorton's death Wednesday morning at the age of 92, there will be many stories shared about his contributions during his four decades of public service as a legislator, state attorney general, and U. S. Senator. But the story that may most compellingly define his integrity, unfortunately, will only be shared here.
 
It's the story of how this state's two most powerful Republican elected officials hatched a plan a little over a half-century ago to put a black man in a position to have a shot at becoming the nation's first black governor since reconstruction.
 
Slade GordonSlade GordonBut it's a story that won't be totally comfortable for those espousing the cause of Black Lives Matter since the man that Gorton and then-Gov. Dan Evans sought to move to the political fore made his reputation as a black Republican espousing a message of self-help for blacks seeking to earn their opportunity.  
 
Art Fletcher was a college football player from a little college in Kansas who made it to the pro ranks for a single season as the first black player with the Baltimore Colts, then proceeded to head West to get involved in political issues.
 
He eventually found his way to the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington and launched a self-help program for residents of the largely black community of East Pasco. The success of the program helped him win a place on the Pasco City Council in 1967. I remember hearing about him and doing a column in early 1968, about the same time Evans and soon thereafter Gorton heard him speak, saw his impact on listeners and decided he deserved a shot at statewide elective office.
 
The plan was to convince him to run for lieutenant governor, which he did. And the campaign poster picturing four young members of the Republican team seeking statewide office, three of them white and one black, was way ahead of its time, as were the convictions for equality of the two young leaders, Evans and Gorton.
 
It's difficult for the history books to convey, if any were to try, the similarity between the racial unrest of today and the more violent riots in many U.S. cities in the mid to late '60s.
 
Then the slogan for the riots was "burn baby burn," a much more riot-appropriate chant than the largely peaceful protests to shouts of Black Lives Matter.
 
The protests in the Seattle area in the late '60s were as much about the Vietnam war as about black unrest, but the latter occasionally leaped out as with bombs tossed at the homes of a couple of elected officials, white lawmakers representing largely minority districts.
 
And never reported, though I heard about it directly at the time from Evans' personal Washington State Patrol security officer, was the dangerous encounter the governor had one day when he went to Garfield High School to reach out to young black youths who had been involved in the protest.
 
Evans and his security officer found themselves in a room with a couple of dozen young men who, according to the security officer, began to draw a circle around the pair with anger in their eyes. But Evans apparently quietly calmed them down.
 
Part of Evans' and Gorton's desire to boost Fletcher's career was his ability to replace the kind of anger Evans faced at Garfield High with a sense of optimism.
 
"Art's message was 'we need to boost ourselves," Evans said in our conversation this week.
 
The idea was for Fletcher to be elected lieutenant governor and when Evans' term ended, he would step aside and he and Gorton would help Fletcher run for governor.
But Fletcher lost the race to incumbent John Cherberg by a few points.
 
Evans reflected on that effort Wednesday when I called him about Gorton's death and I mentioned their remarkable effort to pave the way for a Black governor, which I wrote about two years ago on the 50th anniversary of that remarkable political year.
 
"Fletcher would have transformed Washington State and the nation," Evans observed.
 
But because of the visibility Evans and Gorton provided Fletcher, including a presentation at the Republican Convention of '68, at which Evans was keynoter, on his self-help philosophy to advance the fortunes of black Americans, he won a spot in the Nixon administration.
 
As an Assistant Secretary of Labor, Fletcher put in place the nation's first affirmative action program, coming to be known as the Father of Affirmative Action, something that would never have come about if Evans and Gorton had not had a vision of what could be.  
 
And Gorton should be remembered for sharing the shaping of that vision decades ahead of its time, as well as all his other accomplishments, including saving the Seattle Mariners.

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Former Seattleite's education innovation may aid COVID-19 schools challenge

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Kathryn E. Kelly is an environmental toxicologist with a global reputation and clientele who decided to step away from her Tahoe-based business for a time a decade ago to homeschool her two adopted Kazakhstan-born sons.
 
That homeschooling in the Incline Village, NV, a community where she moved from Seattle to raise her sons, Nikolay and Sasha, became an early example of blended learning in a way that attracted national and even international attention. And now, amid the schooling uncertainty in the midst of COVID-19, conventional school districts are seeking her help.
 
Kathryn Kelley PH.D.Kathryn Kelley PH.D.Kelly's original blended-learning school that she named eLearning Café was an innovative internet café with computers, chairs for relaxing conversation and an opportunity for drop-ins to take courses in person or online, or to offer instruction.
 
But she metamorphosed eLearning Café into I·School, standing for individualized learning, as retired teachers began showing up to work with students whose parents sent them to learn under Kelly's guidance.
 
Late last week the 64,000-student Washoe County School District approached her about taking a number of the district's Advanced Placement students into I·School. Now she faces the daunting possibility that other districts around the country may follow suit in order to get their students into the hands of experienced online educators.
 
Kelly has an interesting set of degrees as an undergraduate from Stanford who got her Ph.D. in environmental toxicology from Columbia University, then her teaching credentials from Western Governors University (WGU), which she credits with being the competency-based model for I·School.
 
And she told me this week that she inquired of WGU, where she earned a Masters of Education in Learning and Technology, "How many teachers can you send me?"
 
She was pleased, she said, with the answer: "Whatever number you need."
 
The magic of I·School has been the process of creating rigorous and individualized approaches to education according to student needs and interests.
 
"When you let students be in control of their learning, great things result, whether retaking a class, looking for advanced academic opportunities or just expanding personal horizons," Kelly said. Her premise from the outset has been "the one-size-fits-all model of current education did not fit my sons or anyone else I knew, from special-needs kids to profoundly gifted ones."
 
Ironically, it was her deciding she wanted to be a mom that guided Kelly to a new career as an education innovator as she adopted 6-year-old Nikolay from Kazakhstan in 2003 and Sasha, then age seven, in 2006 from the same Central Asian nation so "Kolya" would have a brother.
 
"I created I·School to give my kids a great education without having to teach them myself, and I accomplished that," Kelly said. "And I have a thriving toxicology practice doing things I love as well."
 
"Someone else will be leading I·School in new directions, or we will merge with a like-minded school and become a desirable satellite location for their children to be educated," she added. "You don't have to talk many people into spending extended time at Tahoe."
 
"Like-minded" could also include outdoor schooling since she said several of her students' parents have inquired about that and she has been approached by the president of a prominent outdoor leadership program called Project Discovery, about 15 minutes from Tahoe, to use his outdoor facilities to do schooling.
 
In fact, Kelly noted that her I·School training includes having students get up from the computers once an hour "to go outside and look at the trees, smell the forest, or somehow touch base with nature for a few minutes."
 
There is one downside, Kelly cautioned.
 
"Unfortunately, parents will have to pay us for classes that are not currently available in the district," Kelly explained. "While we are glad to be able to give our school districts some additional options during a time like this, having parents pay twice - once through their taxes and again to us - does not seem like an equitable solution in the long run and I hope that can be fixed soon at the state level."
 
I first met Kelly in the late '80s when she headed her own Seattle-based environmental firm and we served on the Seattle Chamber of Commerce Board together and both taught classes at the Business Week summer program to teach students about business.
 
Thus she asked me to be on the eLearning Café advisory board she put together and when I learned about her getting her degree from WGU, I introduced her to WSU President Emeritus Sam Smith, one of the founders of WGU, and she invited Smith to also be a member of that advisory board.
 
Within two years of its 2011 founding, eLearning Cafes, Inc., and then I·School was attracting national attention and gaining accreditation. Kelly was a speaker at various blended-learning conferences around the country.
 
Now she may find the coronavirus crisis provides a new and challenging focus on her and her novel blended learning school.

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COVID19 - New event to celebrate business leaders who made a difference

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A new event to celebrate business leaders who made a difference in coronavirus time
 
Events to celebrate successful business leaders and their contributions abound in every city-and Seattle is no exception. But as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the nation's economy, impacting virtually every business in this state and those who guide them, it's important to recognize those who have made a difference in this time of crisis.
 
Thus, The 20 for 2020 event is being created to honor business leaders who have demonstrated the kind of courage, sacrifice, and innovation that have helped sustain us through the tough times and who can serve as models as a "new normal" takes shape.
 
The Columbia Tower Club, Seattle's premier meeting and conference venue, has agreed to be the host for The 20 for 2020 event. It's planned as an actual gathering in the club in January, provided that COVID-19 precautions in effect then permit the gathering of the 20 honorees and a half dozen or so guests each, spread across the two adjoining conference rooms on the 76th floor.  
 
The event will feature a video vignette on each honoree. If the event can't be held live, a virtual event will provide the visibility for the honorees, and a glossy publication that will be produced by marketingnw.com, the Internet site that serves the marketing communications community.
 
Katrina Eileen Romatowski of Katrina Eileen Real Estate brokerage in Seattle chairs the Columbia Tower Club events committee and in that role helped create the concept for this event, which her firm will co-sponsor.\
 
"The 20 for 2020 will recognize leaders and innovators who have demonstrated an uncanny ability to tap into what the human spirit truly needs in these most challenging of times," Katrina said. "They are those whose ideas and actions helped unite our communities with honesty, clarity, and vision ."
 
Another co-sponsor is BizX whose founder and CEO Bob Bagga will be one of the judges. Bizx is one of the oldest and most prestigious barter companies in the country and has come to the fore as an alternative to cash in this coronavirus economy.
 
As publisher of Puget Sound Business Journal, I had the good fortune to launch many of the events that celebrate segments of the business community from Women of Influence to 40 Under 40 to minority business awards, 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies event and philanthropy-honoring events. But helping launch this event is particularly rewarding.  
 
The leaders we honor from an array of businesses and government entities will represent a new breed of outliers who created a business model in response to the pandemic based on "how much did they care and what did they give while continuing to keep an eye on business success."
 
A panel of judges, including Katrina Eileen, Bagga, Tower Club General Manager Michael Anderson, marketingnw.com Publisher Larry Coffman, and I, will choose the 20 honorees.

Nominees must be residents of Washington State who were responsible for creating and executing services that have made a significant and innovative difference to the community during the coronavirus crisis.
 
I have no doubt that similar recognition events will emerge in other cities as the reality of the likely long-term impact of COVID-19 on business and the economy will bring the importance of that new breed of business outliers to the fore. And "how much did you care and how much did you give (in community-benefitting innovation, not dollars)" will become the business leader's contribution to honor.
 
Nominations describing a nominee's contributions in 500 words or fewer should be sent to Katrina<AT>katrinaeileen.com. Questions can be directed to me by hitting reply to this column or emailing me at mike<AT>emikeflynn.com.

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