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Cheri Marusa, a four-generation Cle Elum Housewife, has become face of citizen activism

Cheri Marusa describes herself simply as a Cle Elum housewife and mother whose roots in Upper Kittitas County go back four generations. But in reality she has quietly, and those who find themselves on the other side of one her causes would say "not always quietly," come to be the face of citizen activism in Washington State.

It's been 15 years since she emerged from that housewife-and-mother role with a campaign to bring enhanced emergency medical services to the Cle Elum area, founding Life Support, which she has served as president since then and helped guide its dramatic impact on not only emergency medical services but enhanced healthcare as well.

Marusa has, in essence, become the cause of causes, launching programs to address challenges ranging from small-town economic development problems to pressing children's issues.

 

Cheri Marusa

Her first cause, Life Support, required funds from the legislature and the effort to get the funds launched her on a path that allowed her to become over the years one of the most familiar faces in the legislative halls and offices. Some lawmakers who were at first resistant to her funding requests, particularly in financially challenging times in the legislature, might describe her as an unrelenting force.  

Her success at attracting legislative support would make the most successful lobbyists envious, although she insists she's not a lobbyist. In fact, because she doesn't draw a salary from any of the organizations she advocates for, she has occasionally wound up sleeping in her car when she has had to overnight in Olympia during legislative sessions.

She had to overcome substantial community opposition when she undertook to create Life Support since physicians at the local Cle Elum clinic feared they'd be put out of business if Marusa's efforts to increase the quality of medical care in Upper County proved successful.  

The Life Support initiative culminated with attracting Swedish Medical Center to open a facility in Cle Elum. And her fund-raising efforts resulted in construction of new fire stations and purchase of life-saving tools for the emergency medical responders.

I first met Marusa in 2003 when I was among the Seattle-area business people she convinced to go on the board of her 501c3 Life Support organization.  

She has sought my advise on several occasions for her initiatives since then, and paid little heed to my counsel of "Cheri, that simply isn't going to happen" and went on to make them happen.

The first of those unlikely successes for which I said "not gonna happen" related to Life Support when her campaign on behalf of emergency medical services wound up with a $2.7 million appropriation at a time of severe financial challenge for the lawmakers.

I had the same advise when she went after lawmakers for a $2 million plus grant for a Junior Achievement Center in Yakima to provide financial literacy programs for young people in a new JA World learning center, a facility that the business community in Yakima supported with additional dollars. The local supporters of the facility, when it was completed, boasted that Yakima was the only small community in which JA has built such a facility anywhere in the country.

Marusa has an earthy air about her, a small-town mother of two daughters who can look in the mirror and chuckle as she describes the woman she sees there as "a well-rounded personality."

  

Her persuasiveness with legislators to support her causes prompted House Speaker Frank Chopp to enlist her support, again as a volunteer, for his One Washington initiative, sending her on the road to visit communities and small towns in the central and eastern parts of the state to learn of issues challenging them. She confided to me that she really hadn't spent much time in other parts of the state until she got involved with One Washington.

And Marusa already has a busy first quarter of 2015 planned. In addition to pressing the Legislature for funding of a couple of projects, since she wants an appropriation to restore an historic building in Roslyn, the small Kittitas County town made famous as the home of the TV series Northern Exposure. She is also tackling an issue opposed by some potent adversaries -- sheriffs and police chiefs from around the state.

She created the Roslyn Renaissance project to guide preservation and renovation of historic commercial buildings and community character, as well as attract business and generate permanent jobs in the old coal-mining community where her husband Rob's father was a miner after bringing his family there from Croatia.

She is also chair of the Roslyn Downtown Association and, along the way, launched the Cle Elum Rotary club.

Her current legislative battle with chiefs and sheriffs is over her campaign to require training for reserve police officers similar to that required for regular law enforcement officers.

"It's okay if reserves do traffic control and the like," she explained. "But if they are going to carry a gun and have arresting authority, they should be no less training than regular officers. Chiefs and sheriffs don't want to incur that cost so they are fighting this."    

Plus she is heading to Nicaragua in February with a number of Seattle Seahawks and other NFL players accompanying her to work in impoverished villages in that country as part of an effort to assist Seattle-based GIVE.

The leader of the NFL crew accompanying her is Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, for whom she recently created and chairs the Jermaine Kearse Foundation, focused, as she describes it, on "engaging and inspiring youth by creating real-life relevance through experiential learning and tying learning to living a healthy lifestyle"

So how did she convince a group of NFL stars to accompany her on a trip to assist the poor in Nicaragua?  

"I merely told them, 'come with me. I want you to do something that will be life changing and you will come back a better person.'" she said.  

It's the same message she has carried for most of her involvements over much of her 55 years.

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First-ever grant makes this a special year for Hispanic-families focused Friends or Granger

What was born 11 years ago out of a Thanksgiving Day conversation in the small town of Granger between two women concerned that the children there, mostly Hispanic and poverty-level, would go hungry over the Christmas holidays has grown into an effort to also feed the minds of not just the youngsters, but also their families.

This year is a special one for the little non-profit called Friends of Granger, that grew out of that 2003 Thanksgiving conversation between Joan Wallace, then president of Wallace Properties in Bellevue, and her sister in law, Janet Wheaton, then principal of Granger High School in a community that U.S. Census figures indicate is 85 percent Hispanic.  

 

The specialness is that this year has brought a new and growing relationship with nearby Heritage University and its largely Hispanic student body, as well as the remarkable results of the energy and creativity of Heritage student Alma Sanchez that have brought the tiny non-profit its first grant.

 

Thus is many respects, this is the most important year since the tiny 501c3 was founded to focus on providing Christmas baskets to the mostly Hispanic families. It subsequently grew to not just feed but also enrich the children with programs ranging from providing warm clothing and school supplies to creation of a month-long summer day camp. In addition, an emergency fund was established to help families in crisis.

 

In her annual e-mail report and "ask" to "friends" last week, Wallace noted that the little non-profit had received a $15,000 grant from the Yakima Valley Community Foundation (YVCF), due mainly to the involvement of Sanchez, a mother of four who is both a student and an employee at Heritage.

The grant is for the education-focused program Sanchez created to use incentives to keep kids in school. Sanchez, who in addition to being a Heritage student also works in the office of Michael Moore, Heritage's Vice President for University Advancement. It was Moore who first reached out to Wallace to create ties between the university and her programs.

Sanchez' attendance incentive program, promoted with posters visible around the school, attracts attention with the headline "Win One of 5 IPads," with the explanation that five will be raffled at the end of the year. Plus, in a style worthy of an ad agency, the signs read: "every quarter that you are in school every day you will receive fabulous prizes."

The results of Sanchez' efforts are already paying dramatic dividends since the 400-student middle school that last year had six students with perfect attendance already has 100 kids with perfect attendance this year.

Moore explains that Sanchez "has also worked inside the school to create a belief among faculty and staff that full attendance is possible and put encouragement, support and incentives in place for students."

Now Sanchez' program can be expanded as a result of the grant from YVCF, which held a special luncheon last week where Wheaton, now Director of Federal Programs, Assessment, Curriculum & Technology for the Granger School District, received the grant check from Linda Moore, the community foundation president.

Sanchez, whose children range from a 20 year old down to a third grader, decided four years ago she needed to get her degree and so, in her mid-30s, enrolled at Heritage. In her sophomore year she went to work in Moore's office because she needed money to finish school.

She had nurtured the goal of going to college, originally hoping to be an attorney, since growing up in Chicago, the city which has perhaps the largest urban Mexican-American population in the country. She moved her family to Granger when her husband relocated to the Yakima Valley.

After learning about Friends of Granger, she got involved, did some research and learned that lack of attendance was the major problem in the Granger schools.

She says she researched attendance across the country and explored what different schools were doing to address the problem and found what kinds of incentive programs to keep kids in school were working in other districts, then came up with her plan for Granger schools, but needed the funding to implement her ideas. That led to the application for the grant.

Sanchez has also helped put together a series of financial literacy workshops for the Granger families and the first one, last week, exceeded all expectations as at least 500 people, representing 150 different families, showed up.

Here again incentives came into play as each family picked up food baskets, then stayed to listen to the presenters.

"When the grant got approved, I can't tell you how ecstatic I was," Sanchez said. "What I would like to see is for this program to continue because I am confident if it continues that we will see significant increases in attendance, and that thus more students will graduate and more students will go on to college."

She also shared her vision that the project "could become the protocol for other districts elsewhere that are facing attendance problems."

 

Meanwhile, the Heritage connection will be ratcheted up next year when18 student teachers will be working in Granger with master teachers from the School District for the entire year, five days a week in a program viewed as a national model for how teachers need to be trained.   

 

The vision for the Heritage program is that by teaching with master teachers in some of the most challenging districts in the state, Heritage-trained teachers emerge with skills and experience no other programs can produce while also substantially moving the needle on performance for the schools and classrooms they touch.

    

Granger will appropriately be the initial beneficiary of this program.

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Ironic convergence in Seattle of LBJ-focused plays, probable Galloway Vietnam interviews

(This second of two columns deals with an ironic convergence in Seattle as a play depicting Lynden Johnson's failure in Vietnam has its world premiere at the Seattle Rep while a series of special interviews with veterans of that war will likely be conducted in Seattle by the correspondent who made famous the defining battle of the war.)

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As The Great Society, a look at Lyndon B. Johnson's failure in Vietnam, has its world premiere in Seattle, the war correspondent who chronicled the battle that foretold the outcome of that war may well be conducting filmed oral-history interviews with Seattle-area vets for the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemorative.

The world premiere of Robert Schenkkan's play, a co-commission between the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Seattle Repertory Theater, will open at the Rep on December 5 as a companion to the Tony-award winning All the Way, detailing LBJ's initial successes, which opens at the Rep this week.

That first Schenkkan play ironically opens at the Rep on November 14, the 49th anniversary of the start of the four-day battle of the Ia Drang Valley that Joe Galloway's writings made famous.

That Vietnam outcome is the focus of Schenkkan's The Great Society, which depicts LBJ's fall from grace as his major domestic accomplishments are overshadowed by the failure of his conduct of the Vietnam War.

Joe Galloway, a UPI correspondent who made famous the November, 1965, battle of the Ia Drang Valley and the war's outcome that it presaged, now has a special role in the 50thAnniversary Commemorative project that is intended to bring him to Seattle in January or February.

Joe Galloway at Veterans Day in D.C.
(Stars and Stripes photo)
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Galloway is serving as a special consultant to the 50thCommemorative project run out of the office of the Secretary of Defense, doing filmed oral history interviews with Vietnam veterans.The interviews are what would guide his effort to get to Seattle in January or February.

 

Galloway explained that the anniversary commemoration "is really about saying thanks to those who served and urging all the cities and towns across this country to hold their own events honoring those veterans; giving them the welcome that was denied to them half a century ago."    

Galloway had a high-visibility role for this year's Veterans Day celebration at the National World War II Memorial in Washington as keynote speaker and among the hundreds on hand were roughly 20 WWII veterans, who were singled out and thanked repeatedly throughout the ceremony for their service.

 

Galloway noted in his remarks that though the WWII vets' numbers have "dwindled down to a precious few," their contribution to promoting peace and freedom in the world still looms large.  

With an obvious reference to Vietnam, Galloway told the veterans and others in attendance that despite the tremendous cost in lives lost, "There was not a voice raised against that war because it had to be fought and ... it had to be won."

Galloway has completed 65 two-hour filmed interviews for the oral histories, beginning with Gen. (and later Secretary of Defense) Colin Powell, and now is looking to line up a dozen or so Seattle-area interviews. Ideally, the visit for the interviews would be paired with one or more commemorative events in the Seattle area as states and communities are urged to participate in the 50thcommemorative with events to say belated thanks to the Vietnam veterans.

old galloway
Joe Galloway 

Galloway explains that the unedited interviews will be deposited in the Library of Congress Oral History Archives. An edited version (for length and focus) will be transferred to DVD and eventually packaged and sent to every junior and senior high school in the country.

Galloway's "We Were Soldiers Once and Young" and its sequel, as well as his later writings, made the battle of Ia Drang famous for its import in making clear the inevitable Vietnam outcome a decade before politicians finally ended the war.

Galloway was a 25-year-old UPI correspondent who was already battle tested when he found himself, along with the Seventh Cavalry, in the midst of the first major conflict for U.S. troops vs. North Vietnam regulars in a place called the Ia Drang Valley.

In his book and its sequel, "We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields," both co-authored with Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, then a lieutenant colonel commanding a unit of the 7th Cavalry, Galloway focuses on the battle and the soldiers, of both armies, who suffered and died there.

Galloway himself eventually was decorated with the bronze star with valor for his actions to rescue wounded soldiers under fire, the only time the award was made by the army to a civilian for actions in Vietnam.

"In three days and two nights in Landing Zone X-Ray, and another day and night in a landing zone called Albany two miles away, 234 American soldiers were killed and nearly 300 wounded. The North Vietnamese left behind the bodies of somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 dead," Galloway wrote in an article for History magazine. "No one in their right mind stakes a claim to victory in the middle of that kind of carnage. Funny but both sides did just that." 

Galloway was typically Galloway at a news conference following the battle, as he recalled a clash with a general who had just returned from assessing the battle zone. "He toldthe dozens of reporters who had assembled that there was no ambush of the Americans at Albany. 'It was a meeting engagement,' he said, and added 'casualties were light to moderate.' I had just returned from Albany myself, and I stood and told the general, 'That's bullshit, sir, and you know it!' The news conference dissolved in a chorus of angry shouting."

The forever indictment of President Johnson and his brain trust for what happened in Vietnam was sealed because of Ia Drang. Following the battle, LBJ dispatched Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to find out what had happened at Ia Drang and what it meant.

Galloway, in an article four years ago in History.net magazine, explained what took place thereafter at the highest levels.

"After meeting with the ambassador and key military people, including Hal Moore, McNamara penned a top-secret memo to LBJ, saying in essence 'We have come to a decision point and it seems we have only two choices: Either we arrange whatever diplomatic cover we can find and get out of Vietnam, or we give General (William C.) Westmoreland the 200,000 additional U.S. troops he is asking for, in which case by early 1967 we will have 500,000 Americans on the ground and they will be dying at the rate of 1,000 a month (American combat deaths would actually top out at over 3,000 a month in 1968).' McNamara wrote that all this would achieve was a military stalemate at a much higher level of violence."

  

Galloway's article continued: "On December 15, 1965, LBJ's council of 'wise old men,' which in addition to McNamara included the likes of Clark Clifford, Abe Fortas, Averell Harriman, George Ball and Dean Acheson, was assembled at the White House to decide the path ahead in Vietnam. As the president walked into the room, he was holding McNamara's November 30 memo in his hand. Shaking it at the defense secretary, he said, 'You mean to tell me no matter what I do I can't win in Vietnam?' McNamara nodded yes. The wise men talked for two days without seriously considering McNamara's '1'-getting out of Vietnam-and ultimately voted unanimously in favor of further escalation of the war."

The count of the dead would eventually exceed 52,000, including 1,100 from Washington State.

In the columns on military affairs he wrote for McClatchy Newspapers after his retirement, Galloway frequently criticized the political decisionmakers who put his soldiers in harm's way in Iraq and Afghanistan. He told me once, when I asked about the criticisms he received from high levels, "I wore out the 'delete' key on my keyboard every year. I didn't take it personally. Most who wrote such diatribes calling me nine kinds of a Commie rat were people who had never worn a uniform, would not send their children to fight in the wars they championed and really were so unread in history as to be unqualified to say a damn word."

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Seattle may have role in Galloway's Vietnam 50th commemorative interviews with Viet vets

Editor's Note:
This is the first of two columns related to the Vietnam War 50thAnniversary Commemorative project, the interviews with Viet vets being conducted by prominent war correspondent Joe Galloway and the effort to make Seattle-area vets part of those Commemorative oral-history interviews. The second column next week will deal with the battle that Galloway's book and subsequent movie made famous and, as President Lynden Johnson's life is being featured in a pair of plays by Seattle dramatist Robert Schenkkan, the role that battle played in LBJ's tragically avoidable decisions about Vietnam.)

 

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Joe Galloway, a self-described country boy from Texas who became the only decorated correspondent of the Vietnam war and earned praise from those whose battles he covered as "the soldiers' reporter," saves special profanity for both the politicians who sent soldiers to die and the protesters who refused to welcome them home.

Galloway's book, "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young" and the movie made from it served to make famous the November, 1965, battle of Ia Drang Valley, which history proved to be the defining battle of Vietnam a decade before politicians finally ended the war.

And while his war-correspondent role continued in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was the battle of Ia Drang that forever marked him as more than a correspondent. It was there in that first major conflict between U.S. troops and North Vietnam regulars that he repeatedly disregarded his own safety to rescue wounded soldiers under fire.

Joe Galloway

He eventually was decorated with the bronze star with V (for valor), the only time the award was made by the army to a civilian for actions in Vietnam.

Now Galloway has a key role in the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemorative project, serving as a special consultant to the project run out of the office of the Secretary of Defense, doing oral history interviews with Vietnam veterans.

"I have 65 two-hour interviews in the can now, beginning with Colin Powell and working outward," he told me.

It may be that the Seattle area and interviews with veterans from this state, as well as helping mark one or more commemorative local events, will be on Galloway's early 2015 schedule.

With Galloway's permission and that of retired Army Lt. Gen. Claude M. "Mick" Kicklighter, who is charged with overseeing all aspects of the Vietnam War 50th Anniversary Commemoration, several of us are cooperating in an effort to line up the Vietnam vet interviews and ideally one or more Commemorative events.

 

I've written a couple of Flynn's Harp columns on Galloway, a one-time colleague at United Press International, the wire service for which he covered the Vietnam War, and he's now among those who receive this column and we exchange emails occasionally.

The email exchange that led to the effort on behalf of a Seattle visit early next year began when I emailed Galloway to ask about his views of the controversy starting to emerge in reaction to the 50th commemorative project.

 

Noted Vietnam protestor Tom Hayden and others have gathered petitions objecting to the Defense Department website relating to the 50th anniversary commemorative, describing it as a "whitewash."

"I suppose it is only natural and normal that the (expletive) protesters crawl out of the woodwork to p--- on something decent one last time," Galloway replied, noting "I am not speaking for the Commemoration. That isn't my job. But surely these (expletive) can't argue with letting Vietnam veterans tell their own stories in their own words."

Galloway explained that the anniversary commemoration "is really about saying thanks to those who served and urging all the cities and towns across this country to hold their own events honoring those veterans, giving them the welcome that was denied to them half a century ago.

 

Joint Base-Lewis-McChord (JBLM) last month had an event to recognize the 50thanniversary commemoration where about 2,500 veterans and their families showed up at the largest military base on the West Coast for the ceremony, apparently the first at any military base.

Although not related directly to the 50th, the State of Washington, on Memorial Day of 2012, marked the 25thanniversary of completion of the state's Vietnam wall to honor the 1,116 state residents killed or missing in Vietnam.

This area has a particular attraction for Galloway because among the interviewees here would be Bruce Crandall, the helicopter pilot who was a hero of both Galloway's book and the movie for the heroism demonstrated in repeat trips to the Ia Drang battlefield to deliver supplies and evacuate wounded.

Crandall, an Olympia native who attended University of Washington before being drafted, and his wing man, Ed "Too Tall" Freeman, who died a year ago, were both awarded the Medal of Honor for their bravery at Ia Drang. Together they flew nearly two dozen missions during both daylight and darkness into the landing zone, bringing essential ammunition and supplies and carrying out 70 wounded, after a med evac unit had decided it was too deadly to fly into the battle zone.

Dick Merchant 

Other interviewees will likely include Richard Merchant, the retired lieutenant colonel who was awarded a Bronze Star with V, a purple heart and other awards, who was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Memorial Day event at the wall in Olympia.

It was during Merchant's first of two tours in Vietnam that he found himself in the battle of the Ia Drang Valley.

In his keynote, Merchant made reference to "those who hated the war but weren't able to differentiate between the war and those who were sent to fight it."

"The soldier above all people prays for peace because he has suffered the deepest wounds of war," he added.

Others I have touched base with on this project thus far include Perkins Coie attorney Karl Ege, who for more than a decade served as chief legal officer for Russell Investments Group, and was a forward observer for a U.S. Marines artillery unit in 1966 and 1967. He has returned to Vietnam on several occasions.

"What is astonishing to me is the high regard the people of Vietnam have for the United States, we are welcomed there with open arms," Ege emailed me.  "The average age of the Vietnamese is less than 30 and the 'American War' (as it is known there) is unknown to the young. It is their 'grandparents war'"

For Galloway, the oral-history interviews with Vietnam veterans bring back memories, and many are not easy ones.

 

In Kentucky, where he was speaker along with the Kentucky governor, himself a Vietnam vet, Galloway recalled for me wandering around the sundial-based memorial. "I stopped at November 1965 and, sure enough, there were the names of two Kentuckians killed in the Ia Drang Valley. I was stopped in my tracks and quietly wept for those boys and all the boys who died in that war."

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Hara takes taxpayer anger over property taxes as opportunity to deliver several messages

Meetings with property owners angry about their taxes might usually be viewed as an intimidating experience for the elected official responsible for determining the taxes, but King County Assessor Lloyd Hara sees such contacts as merely an opportunity to educate his "customers."  

Hara, who will be running for re-election next November though he hasn't formally announced, says he generally finds that the taxpayer anger or apprehension is the result of misunderstanding of how property taxes are determined. So in addition to correcting misperceptions, he looks forward to such sessions as an opportunity for him to offer a couple of key messages that he's been delivering for years.

Lloyd Hara 

The first of those messages for such audiences is an attention getter: if you think your property taxes are too high it may be your own fault.  

Hara doesn't actually tell taxpayers that if they think their property taxes are too high they may have themselves to blame. But he does routinely tell groups he speaks before that a third to a half of property taxes are from special levies, taxes approved by voters to impose additional taxes on themselves to pay for everything from parks to schools to emergency medical services.

"People have more control over their tax bill than they often realize," says Hara.

Hara, who was first elected assessor in 2009 to fill the unexpired term of the previous assessor, has held more appointive and elective offices locally over a longer period of time than likely anyone. He was first appointed King County Auditor in 1969 at the age of 29, youngest person ever to hold that post. In that role he achieved national recognition for his work on performance auditing of government agencies.

He was elected four times between 1980 and 1992 as Seattle City Treasurer, honored with national awards for his performance in that role.  

Then he was appointed head of the regional office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and, in 2005, was elected a commissioner of the Port of Seattle.

In his assessor role, Hara's department appraises all property in the county then places a value on each parcel and determines a tax per thousand dollars of value.

The information is then passed to the county treasurer, who proceeds to send out the tax bills to each property owner for the coming year.

Hara this month had a typical meeting with Bellevue residents who were upset because the values of their property had gone up dramatically and they were concerned about taxes going up in relation to value.

Hara explained that wasn't going to happen, noting that under state law, the total tax take in the county can't increase by more than 1 percent, although some individual property owners may, for several reasons, see their taxes go up more than others. And one of those reasons is special levies.

The average impact of special levies in Seattle is about 30 percent, Hara said, while in Bellevue special levies account for about 50 percent of the average residential property-tax tab. It's clear at some of Hara's taxpayer "customer" gatherings that the levy total is a shock to some listeners.

"Proposition 1, the ballot measure on parks, was a good example," Hara said. "Everyone loves parks. So do I. But they need to be looked at in terms of relative priority, as compared, for example, with public safety."

"Unfortunately, the capacity isn't there to do all things and if we just put up a single issue that's a high-visibility one, it can get approved by a big margin, as happened with the parks measure this summer," he added. "But if the voters had a package to choose from, that single issue might suddenly be less logical when viewed holistically."

"It' possible for something to be a good thing but yet not pass muster when looked at holistically," he said, praising the League of Women Voters for taking the broader view in opposing the parks measure, which will add as much as $148 per year for the average home in the county.

The second message Hara takes the opportunity to discuss with audiences, that government consolidation may reduce your tax bill, sparks little more than a yawn. But government reorganization needs to attract more attention from elected officials, and Hara's focus on the topic by discussing the issue with taxpayer audiences may help lead toward that greater legislative interest.

Hara has been a proponent of reorganizing government to create efficiency for taxpayers since, while working in the state budget office in the late 60s, he was involved in the effort to reorganize state government into what were characterized as "super agencies" that tried to consolidate agencies by program functions.

He's been a constant advocate since then of consolidating taxing districts, taking the view that regionalization, consolidating functions of various elective offices across local or even county boundaries, may be a way that taxpayers in smaller districts or counties may be better served.

Hara wonders "how many jurisdictions should there be that taxpayers are helping support? Could some services be merged into regional units? Can some be privatized?"

It's out of such discussions that new ways of doing things at the local-government level may emerge as lawmakers and policymakers cope with new funding realities.

The website for the Assessor's office has received recognition and it may include an unusual addition next year, for which Hara has passed the first hurdle, the funds being included King County executive Dow Constantine's budget. Now the King County Council must go along.

Hara, who says Chicago was the first city to put advertising on its property tax website, admits "certain officials thought it might look a bit cheesy," but he says "it doesn't make sense to overlook possible new sources of money," which he is initially estimating at a conservative $35,000 a year.

He's also seeking legislative approval again this coming session for the right to impose a fee on appeals of assessments by commercial property tax payers, which would help defray appeal costs for other taxpayers, who must foot the bill if they wish commence a challenge to their taxes.

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As Dan Evans turns 89, fascination with waiting for his nearly complete autobiography grows

It's been just over a quarter of a century since Daniel J. Evans stepped down from the U. S. Senate, ending a political career that included three terms as Washington governor, and setting off a wait for the expected autobiography of the man described as "one of the 10 outstanding governors of the 20th Century."

His story is the stuff of political legend: state's youngest governor when first elected in 1964 at the age of 39. The state's first and only governor elected for three consecutive terms (and might well have won a fourth had he tried for it). Created the nation's first state Department of Ecology, which became the model for Richard Nixon's environmental protection agency. Keynote speaker for the 1968 Republican National Convention, where he was talked of a possible vice presidential accompaniment for nominee and eventual president Nixon (but he refused to endorse Nixon, favoring the moderate Nelson Rockefeller). The only person ever to serve the state as governor and then senator (he was appointed in 1983 to replace Henry M. Jackson, who died on a heart attack).

But those are historical facts. What's missing are the details and personal recollections from the memory of the man who lived and shaped the events for what was likely the state's most tumultuous time. That's why the fascination with waiting for the autobiography of the man who turned 89 last week, although he retains an acuity and physical fitness of someone years younger.

Almost from the January day in 1989 when he retired from the Senate he complained of as beset by "bickering and protracted paralysis, he's been asked when his autobiography would be forthcoming.

Thus it's with some excitement of anticipation that many will be gathering at mid-day Thursday at the Rainier Club, plus a TVW audience, as Evans will be offering some observations and reflections that are being seen as a hoped-for preview of the autobiography.

Evans told me it won't be a preview, just some thoughts on "politics then and now, some history and discussing a couple of issues going on today."   As to the autobiography: "It's almost done," he said. "I have to finish a couple of things then the manuscript will be ready for an editor."

Regardless, the fact that a retired politician's thoughts about his life and times are as awaited as those from Evans perhaps says as much about the current state of politics and politicians and about the yearning for honesty and integrity as about the memories and recollections of the man himself.

Evans' 12 years as governor, from when he took office in January of 1965 through the end of his 12 years in January of 1977, were marked by the same political protests and racial unrest in Washington that were sweeping across the rest of the country but also by a Boeing bust that rocked the state's economy.

It was as a 26-year-old political writer arriving to cover Evans and the political scene a year after Evans took office that I got my ringside seat over the next five years to cover the history he would be making. He was the young governor to whose front door national political writers were beating a path that helped guide his selection to be keynote speaker at the 1968 Republican national convention.

Gov. Dan Evans and young political writer visit in 1969

The course of Evans' political fortunes was actually determined by Democrats as he became the beneficiary in 1963, as a young legislator, of the occasional internecine warfare called coalitions that Evans once told me are unique to Washington legislatures when disgruntled Democrats partner with Republicans to create a majority.

I've heard the story firsthand from Evans but students of state history and fans of politics deserve to learn the details of what will clearly be an intriguing retelling by Evans of the dark-of-night December meeting at a cabin in the woods near Olympia where the unusual political alliance was consummated.

The coalition, driven by a battle within Democrat ranks over public power vs. Spokane Democrats' desire to protect their investor-owned Washington Water Power thrust Evans, as the 1963 Legislature's House majority leader, into a spotlight he never otherwise would have occupied.

And when a year later Evans defeated Democrat Al Rosellini, who was seeking a third term, as Republicans nationally were undergoing political disaster as the presidential debacle of Barry Goldwater's overwhelming defeat by Lyndon Johnson washed across the landscape, he was destined to attract national attention.

It was at the end of the century when a survey of history and political science professors around the country, conducted by the University of Michigan selected Evans as one of the top 10 governors of the 20th Century.

Because Evans, a leader in a cadre of moderate Republicans whose views once dominated GOP leadership ranks, has evidenced his dissatisfaction with the rightward drift of his party, his autobiography is sure to provide the platform for his thoughts and thus attract interest from pundits and political observers nationally.

In fairness Evans hasn't sat around with writer's block waiting for his book to emerge, devoting his time to public and non-profit boards and an array of University of Washington involvements ranging from board of regents, the UW Foundation and what has become the Evans School of Public Affairs and numerous state and national causes.

So even if his 20 minutes in the limelight Thursday, with a TV audience looking on, doesn't turn out to be the unveiling of his autobiography, it may well serve to emphasize to Evans the broad desire to have him complete the work that will detail the events and people of what may well be the state's most important period of growth and change.

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Newspapers a growing, not dying, industry for Sound Publishing and parent Black Press

Don't tell Gloria Fletcher, who as president of Sound Publishing guides what has become Washington's largest and fastest-growing newspaper company, that print media is a dying industry.

Bellevue-based Sound, which owns 38 daily, weekly, community and monthly newspapers in this state, assumed ownership this month of its latest acquisitions, the Daily World of Aberdeen and three weekly newspapers in Grays Harbor County for an undisclosed amount of money.

Gloria Fletcher
Gloria Fletcher

"We don't believe this is a dying industry," Fletcher said "We believe in print but understand the value of the digital component as well."

Sound, as the U.S. subsidiary of Canada's largest independent newspaper company, has become more visible since Fletcher's arrival in April of 2012 with the purchase of the Daily Herald in Everett and the Seattle Weekly and Fletcher has, without a lot of fanfare, quietly become one of the state's most influential business women.

"Influential business woman" is a designation that would be uncomfortable for the low-key Oklahoma native, a 1984 honors graduate at the University of Oklahoma, who became publisher of her hometown Woodward, OK a year later.

Within three years, she had become an executive of American Publishing Co., overseeing a group of the company's newspapers. By the time American Publishing was acquired in 1999 by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. and she was made vice president to oversee 38 newspapers in Oklahoma and the Central Midwest, Fletcher had a 4 year old and a one year old.

In her roles as a key executive of four publishing companies, she has carved out increasingly key roles and has thus helped break the mold of what traditionally had been, with a few nationally notable exceptions like Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, an industry dominated by men.

Fletcher's belief in the future of newspapers fits well with the philosophy of Canadian parent Black Press, the Victoria-based company founded by David Black, who ran the company and grew it to dominance across British Columbia and Alberta before elevating president and COO Rick O'Connor to succeed him as CEO of the company.

Fletcher's philosophy mirrors O'Connor's as well, as he made clear in a telephone interview we had this week in which he said "the value of print is being undersold and the value of digital is being overhyped."

"I'm not saying we don't embrace digital," O'Connor said. "But print is still king, representing 90 percent of our revenue."

He notes that the newspaper industry is beset by a "lot of uncertainty and where there is a lot of uncertainty people tend not to invest," but notes that "when you look at Warren Buffet and other non-newspaper people investing, it's a sign of how smart people are viewing the prospects of the industry."

Among those non-newspaper people getting into print is, of course, Seattle's Jeff Bezos. founder and CEO of Amazon. His purchase of the Washington Post in the summer of 2013 created conversation and conjecture across the traditional media industry.

Bezos' Post purchase created an interesting convergence with Sound in that it was about four months before the Post-Bezos announcement that Sound purchased the Everett Herald from the Washington Post Co., providing the opportunity for m to joke to the Herald's new publisher, Josh O'Connor, that he might now be sitting in the chair Bezos had hoped to be sitting in.

The fact that a move into newspapers by non-newspaper people isn't always going to be a winning proposition was emphasized by word this week that Boston financier Aaron Kushner and his 2100 Trust LLC holding company, which was formed specifically for the purpose of buying and growing major newspapers, may be having serious growing pains. Perhaps even survival pains.

This week Kushner either stepped aside or was stepped on and forced out by investors from his role as publisher of the Orange County Register a week after the Los Angeles Register folded six months into Kushner's experiment to create a daily LA to compete with the Los Angeles Times. Kushner had purchased the OC Register a year before Bezos' acquisition of the Post.

Perhaps in keeping with the premise of his Trust, for which he remains CEO, he was replaced as publisher by former casino executive Richard Mirman, who has no newspaper experience.

And naturally Kushner's travails have been greeted with great glee by traditional newspaper people, as evidenced by a column in USA Today headlined "Kushner's bold bet on print ends up as a farce."

But Black Press' O'Connor and Sound's Fletcher are not worried about the problems of those who are newspaper believers but may lack the experience to deal with the challenges.

Black Press touts itself as "home to some of the oldest, most trusted community newspapers in North America."

In fact, Black Press itself has grown in size and prestige as a newspaper company by grabbing off once-marquee titles of once-dominant but now sinking media companies, as with Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which once carried the Gannett flag, the Akron Beacon-Journal, formerly a McClatchy newspaper, in addition to The Herald from the Washington Post.

The Black, and thus the Sound, business strategy is based on newspaper clusters, as with the importance of "cluster" in the Grays Harbor acquisitions. It is clusters that mark Sounds presence in East King County with its Reporter Newspapers, in Kitsap County and on the Olympic Peninsula, where it owns the daily Port Angeles Evening News.

The cluster concept is also in place for Black in Hawaii where, as a result of acquisitions that include two dailies related to the Aberdeen purchase, it owns all the English-language dailies on the islands.

In fact O'Connor makes it clear that he is enough of a believer in the importance of clusters that he says "where we are already operating is where we intend to invest," saying in response to one of my questions that expansion in the Western U.S. outside of Washington is unlikely.

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Reflections on a time when Cold War fears and strange characters they spawned stirred nation

(Editor's Note: The following reflections of secret nuclear-strategy meetings in Seattle in the 1970s at a time when "Dr. Strangelove" characters held a respected behind-the-scenes prominence as a collective Cold War fear beset this nation seem appropriate to share as a hostile Russia seems to be re-emerging. The shared recollections were prompted by last week's Harp about the days of Seattle's growing ties with Russia two decades-plus ago).

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Earl Sedlik detected early on that he was likely out of place as a Boeing-assigned member of a team of long-range planners who, in the mid-1970s, were assisting the CIA and Defense Department in strategic planning for future military hardware and nuclear-related strategies.

Sedlik had been hired in 1974 as Director of New Product Development at Boeing's Aerospace Division in Seattle, but a year later as Boeing disassembled the unit he found himself as the assigned macroeconomics expert from Boeing on a 10-member secret-team think tank for military armament planning.

It was there that he learned what it meant to plan for a future by strategizing to destroy it. And it was there that he was introduced to his new boss, whom we'll call TK, who was returning to Boeing after a stint as part of the SALT talks, his second tour at SALT and he had also spent time with the CIA after a Washington, DC - based Boeing assignment.

"TK became my new boss without much fanfare - but it was a revelation to work with him," Sedlik said. "He wore a full length black leather winter coat that nearly swept the floor. He hung a picture of an explosion on his wall which caught my eye.  It was, he said, a photo of a lab experiment to show a controlled dispersal of a nuclear reaction so that the power could be focused and not wasted on a spherical blast."

"He was an advocate for the Neutron bomb which would only kill people and not destroy property,' Sedlik remembered. 

"TK was Dr. Strangelove in real life," Sedlik said. "I learned later that his passion in the SALT talks was best describes as: 'what will we do after the nuclear exchange when we have 20 million people left and they have 10?'"

Dr. Strangelove was a reference to the key character in the movie "Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."

Peter Sellers' mad-scientist character in the Stanley Kubrick movie has become an almost archetypal figure of the death-and-destruction focus of the Cold War planning and the film, released 50 years ago this year, became an icon of the genre of movies themed to nuclear fear.

Sedlik described the scene when his group was called to meet with "a hjghly respected climatologist" to discuss the possibility that a Russian drought and resulting food shortages could prompt the Russians to strike first.

The team had gathered for that meeting because of what Sedlik describes as a need to develop a narrative for the Department of Defense to use to convince Congress to support development of an Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) system, replacing the existing Strategic Air Command with "the world's first flying instant-response nuclear attack capability."

Sedlik remembers TK suggesting that if the drought hit the Soviets hard enough, the Communist leaders would order a first strike against the U.S. to quell possible revolt "by diverting everyone's attention toward fighting against the Americans."

Thus the logic in favor of the ALCM's capacity to strike back "even before the first bombs land."

Sedlik said he then questioned the climatologist on whether "we would know about the drought as it developed and before it got too severe and was assured that secret satellite data would keep us aware of how serious the drought was.

That prompted what Sedlik recalls as his rebuttal that day: "if they are hungry, we will feed them. It's a biblical reality that you want your enemy to be healthy so that they make logical decisions and if we know that they might strike first because they are hungry, we will send them food."

"The response was quick and clear," Sedlik said. "TK looked directly at me and sternly said, 'Sedlik, you Eastern Liberal Bastard, you can leave the room!'"

Sedlik, whose Jewish heritage traces to small towns in Moldovia and Belarus, told me he compiled this report of what he referred to as "my oft-repeated story" after a summer trip with his family to Russia a year ago.

He explained that he finally compiled details of the story because "when recast through the reflection of time and direct Russian heritage experience, I wanted Molly and Adam (his children) to share a record of those days and my direct experience with the vagaries of the cold war."

It's Sedlik's reflections on "the vagaries" of the cold war in the context of some of pressures toward a new nuclear arms initiative in this country that prompt me to share his recollections here.

His story brought to mind an op-ed piece in the Washington Post last winter by former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz and former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, now co-chairman and CEO of the nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative, on the question of whether the re-emergence of full-fledged Cold War psychology could be avoided. Return to such a state of mind, they wrote, might be encouraged by Russia developing an "I can get away with it" mentality.

Their key point in the piece was that "Although current circumstances make it difficult, we should not lose sight of areas of common interest where cooperation remains crucial to the security of Russia, Europe and the United States."

And it might also be important to keep in mind philosopher George Santayana's admonition: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

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Deteriorating U.S.-Russia relationship sparks memories of strong Seattle ties built in late '80s

As the Soviet Union was dying and Russia re-emerging back in the late 1980s, the Seattle area was fashioning perhaps the closest ties of any city in America to that one-time Cold War foe.

Now those who were among the visionary leaders in Seattle who understood the value to their area of détente with a former enemy express disappointment and concern about the obvious deterioration of relations between Russia and the United States and its European allies over current events.

But there's more of a sense of sympathy than likely in other regions for the Russian leadership in the current situation, albeit disappointment that the post-Cold War ties that they helped engender are being undone.

And regardless of other thoughts on the souring relationship, most would agree with Carol Vipperman, who created the Foundation for Russian American Economic Cooperation (FRAEC) in April of 1989, even before the Soviet Union's death rattle had become its demise:"I never in my life thought we would be where we are today."

Referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Vipperman said in an interview "he's always been threatened by the kind of opposition that is scattered across Russia, and what's happening now, beginning with the end of free elections for governors of the states, is an indication of his long desire to have control."

Derek Norberg, executive director of the Council for U.S.-Russian Relations, says "the State Department and White House paint a rather clean picture of 'white hats and black hats' in the Ukraine crisis, when in fact the hats are far more grey on both sides and fault in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine (and the degree to which it escalated) lies on all sides."

This is why achieving a lasting cease fire and peace is so difficult," said Norberg, who spent a number of years with Vipperman's organization,"There are parties on both sides whose interests are served by perpetuating the conflict."

"The policies on both sides (US and Russian) are suffering for it.  In my experience, working with the Russians closely is always more productive than is isolating them. For unclear reasons, we are pursuing a policy of isolating the Russians rather than engaging them, Norberg said.

Bob Walsh, who has been the Seattle link to virtually every initiative designed to enhance relations between the U.S. and Russia since the late 1980s, agrees relations are "going down the tube," but is more sympathetic to the Russian actions that have stirred the ire of the U.S. and its allies.

Referring to Putin's decision, in the face of bitter international opposition, to retake Crimea as a part of Russia," Walsh said "I have no problem with that. Ninety percent of the people there wanted to go back to Russia and most citizens of Crimea are happy that they are again part of Russia."

Walsh has not only remain involved with Russia and its citizens, including putting two Russian students through Seattle University, he is now engaged in as-yet unannounced campaign to create a memorial display at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma to the long relationship between the two nations that he helped foster.

Given the current issues straining ties between the two nations, it may be worth reflecting on the role this region took in helping build relations between the two leading nations as the Cold War came to an end and trust needed to be built to replace hostility.

Perhaps the most visible of those initiatives was the 1990 Goodwill Games, which brought the attention of the world to the Olympic-like athletic games between Russia and the United States.

I asked Walsh to recall for me how those came about and he explained that Ted Turner had been unhappy with the boycotts of the 1980 and 1984 Olympics and "wanted to bring people together so he went to see Mikhail Gorbachev and got him to agree to do the Goodwill Games in Russia in 1986."

"Turner called me and asked if we could do a similar event in Seattle in 1990," Walsh recalled. "Frankly we expressed the most interest and I don't recall other cities wanting it."

"Don't forget we were still in the middle of the Cold War and President Reagan had just referred to the Soviet Union as the 'Evil Empire,'" Walsh said. "Mayor Wes Uhlman had already begun a sister city relationship and it seemed we were more open to relations with people in other parts of the world."

Walsh went on to build relationships beyond Russia, creating strong personal ties in Georgia, where he guided the first western investment in the capital of Tiblisi, "all Seattle money with which we built two Marriott Hotels and changed the face of the city."

The focus on opening doors and creating relationships was broad based in the Seattle area, extending to everything from airline connections to Junior Achievement.

Alaska Airlines tied the Seattle area (and the state of Alaska) to the Russian Far East in the '90 as only regular air service can do. Before the breakup of the Soviet Union had been completed in December of 1991, the Seattle-based carrier had launched what would become service to five cities in the far eastern part of Russia with flights that helped thaw relations between the U.S. and the Russian Far East region

The Seattle-based carrier, which said it made money on the Russia runs until the economic downturn in Russia in the late '90s prompted Alaska to discontinue service, even instituted a program of allowing Americans who held multiple-entry visas to city hop within Russia on Alaska Airlines.

In 1993, to facilitate trans-Pacific tourism and trade, Russia opened a consulate in Seattle and the United States opened a consulate in Vladivostok, to which Alaska began year-round flights in 1994.

In fact, Alaska Airlines' ties to what was then the Soviet Union began in 1971 with charter service to Siberia, the outcome of more than three years of what were described as "secret negotiations" between Alaska and Soviet authorities that a reluctant U.S. State Department, once learning of the agreement, gave permission for more than two dozen flights in 1970, '71 and '72.

And Seattle's Junior Achievement board members were instrumental in establishing JA in Russia. That was 1991, as part of a Rotary International program initiated Washington's then Secretary of State Ralph Munro, when several Rotarians went to Moscow and a JA student from Seattle was invited to speak before the Presidium.

"We also had JA USA kids compete with Russian JA kids in the management and economic simulation exercise simulation where the Russian students won," recalls David Moore, JA president for Washington."

"It was obvious that there was higher level of interest in private enterprise among the Russian students," he added, of what has become the second largest JA program in the world.

Focusing solely on the economic cost, and economic ties were clearly the impetus for the initial post-Cold War overtures from leaders in this area, Norberg observed: "Compromising long-term and hard won U.S. business interests in Russia over the principals of Ukraine's sovereignty fails the fundamental test of economic pragmatism. "

"Economically, our policy is doing U.S. businesses a real disservice," he said. "The opportunities lost for the U.S., EU, Russian and global economies are hard to estimate, but are significant.

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State crowdfunding legislation moves toward the implementation date despite SEC uncertainties

As criticism of the Securities and Exchange Commission's dawdling with its charge from Congress to implement crowdfunding through the federal JOBS Act grows to a chorus, there's now criticism emerging that the agency is seeking to disrupt the process for states like Washington that are creating intrastate crowdfunding.

The SEC critics, with increasing plausibility, contend that the agency has done its best to ensure that the federal JOBS Act won't come about as Congress intended.

And now that some states have given up waiting for SEC action, it seems that the federal agency is trying to put roadblocks in the way of frustrated state legislatures that have sought to find ways to have crowdfunding for startups work at the state level through selling shares to large numbers of people, typically via the Internet.

Washington is one of a dozen states that have decided nothing meaningful will come out of SEC machinations, prompting the Legislature last spring, after a year of preparation, to pass a bill that will permit entrepreneurs who are state residents to raise up to $1 million a year in small amounts from in-state investors.

The Legislature gave the State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) until October 1 to put in place the rules and the process under which crowdfunding can be carried out and Bill Beatty, Director of Securities for DFI, says the agency "remains on track" to meet that deadline.

 

The department will have a hearing Thursday on the proposed rules and "will proceed to adopt the rules shortly after that unless we determine we need to make significant changes to the rules as currently proposed," Beatty said.

 

Joe Wallin, an attorney for Seattle-based law firm Davis Wright, predicts that entrepreneurs who are state residents will be able to begin selling shares to large numbers of Washington resident by the end of the year.

 

The legislation in this state and others was in reaction to what has transpired, or failed to transpire, at the federal level after Congress,

with an election-year flourish in the spring of 2012, passed the so-called JOBS Act, officially the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act.

 

Then Congress turned it over to the SEC to enact rules to implement the law and gave the agency 180 days to put together the process for how entrepreneurs could fund their start-up companies, primarily via the internet, by selling equity to large numbers of average investors.

 

 

It soon became obvious to all but the most myopic, with one delay following another, that SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro had little interest in seeing the law come about, possibly because she was more concerned about protecting average investors than following the law's guidance toward funding entrepreneurs.

 

Now the SEC has a new chairman but there is a growing sense that the details of compliance, if and when the SEC finally acts, will be so onerous on entrepreneurs that the costs of starting to raise capital on the Internet will deter many if not most would-be entrepreneurs. Indeed the latest deadline for the rules to be established has passed and the regulators have not provided a new timeframe, now almost two years after the launch date Congress intended.

And now there is also a sense on the part of many crowdfunding supporters, including Wallin, that Congress, unless it has lost interest, may have to intervene to keep the SEC from removing or changing a number of securities rules that stand to burden in-state entrepreneurs who hope to raise funds in their states to launch businesses.

Wallin, who proposed the wording of the original state legislation and whose blog is viewed by many as the final word on what's happening with federal as well as state crowdfunding, worries that the SEC is trying to make it harder for states to do what Congress intended the federal government to do.

 

 

An example is in the fact that the state laws are not subject to the federal crowdfunding law because the companies raising the money are incorporated in those states and raising money solely from investors in those states. Congress created that specific exemption from federal law for intrastate offerings when it enacted the Securities Act of 1933.

However, the SEC has recently issued interpretive guidance on the intrastate exemption that says that if the company uses the internet to promote or discuss its offering then the offering is not an intrastate offering even if a company is incorporated in a particular state and all investors are in that state.

"This is nonsense and it needs to be corrected," says Wallin, who is seeking to stir an outcry from start-up supporters to demand that Congress get involved. "It's nearly impossible not 

 to use the internet to communicate any fundraising or community organizing event that involves these start-up businesses."

"Section 201 of the JOBS Act was a big help to entrepreneurs in that it allowed startups to talk publicly about their efforts to raise money, a process known as General Solicitation," Wallin notes."Unfortunately, the SEC put rules in place that discourage most companies from taking advantage of this new opportunity and Congress needs to restore the intent of its own legislation."

Wallin offers the following suggestion that can be forwarded to members of Congress by those seeking to use the Internet for crowdfunding of their startup:

"Please either pass a simple piece of legislation to fix this or direct the SEC to clarify or fix its intrastate crowdfunding decisions. Otherwise, by prohibiting the use of the internet in intrastate crowdfunding, the SEC is tamping down a nascent but important opportunity to cultivate local funding and entrepreneurship ecosystems before they even have an opportunity to develop."

It may well be time, in these final weeks of an election season in which most members of Congress are on the November ballot, to send a message that indifference and ineptitude on the issues of innovation and job creation won't be taken well by those who understand the role entrepreneurs play in economic health.

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Rewarding patient Mariner fans with a winner is the goal of first-year president Kevin Mather

If the Seattle Mariners are successful in their effort to land their first post-season role in more than a decade, it will fulfill a key wish of Kevin Mather, the team's first-year president and COO, who says "we'd sure like to reward our fans with a playoff opportunity."

Kevin Mather

(Photo Ben Van Houten, Seattle Mariners)

Mather came to his new role, when named last February to replace long-time president and COO Chuck Armstrong, with a conviction on how the Mariners would build a winner and of the need to reward the fans who he said "have been outstanding, patient and loyal" over all the down years.

But while the playoff hopes remain yet unresolved, most of the developments for the Mariners during Mather's first year, some things under his control and some beyond, have come up as positives rather than the negatives that have dogged the team for a dozen years.

In fact, if the Mariners make it to the post season, it will be the first such appearance since 2001, a draught that drained the support of fans who, during the season of that last playoff run outdrew every major-league team with a per-game attendance averaging 43,302.

Mather reviewed the year and fielded questions during a breakfast interview we had last week at the Columbia Tower Club, the same day that the Mariners were singled out, with an article in the New York Times, to be acknowledged broadly for the club's pre-eminent role in an area more important than on-field performance.

As the cries of anger echoed across the NFL and beyond over the assault recorded on video by Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice as he punched his wife senseless in an elevator, the Mariners were singled out for their 17-year partnership with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV).

It was in 1997 that the Mariners started a public education campaign, "Refuse to Abuse," after the WSCADV reached out to team executives in the hope of engaging and educating the team's fans through media advertising in an annual campaign to foster more safe and healthy relationships.

The relationship, noteworthy among all pro sports teams, has continued since then, with the highlight of the annual fund-raising campaign for the coalition being a 5k run carried out entirely in, out and around Safeco Field.

"The coalition has been a great partner for us," Mather said of the domestic-violence awareness group, then added, "baseball is frankly held to a higher standard. We have zero tolerance for domestic violence."

That partnership began a year after Mather joined the Mariners as the Vice President of Finance and Administration. He was promoted to Executive Vice President of Finance and Ballpark Operations in 1999.

Prior to the Mariners, Mather, a CPA by profession, worked for the Minnesota Twins from 1989 to 1996 as director and vice president of finance.

It was in his role with the Twins that he first came to the attention of the Mariners when he was selected to represent baseball's small market in the landmark revenue-sharing plan. It was a process in which markets self-selected themselves as small, medium or large markets,

As Mather recalls it: "Baseball had become a sport in which 25 teams had no chance to win, so the goal was to make every team competitive."

So in 1992, the then-new baseball commissioner Bud Selig began negotiations to create a sharing of revenue that would involve taking money away from some teams that made a lot of money and give it to teams that didn't make a lot.

It was Mather's job to represent the small-market teams, which included the Mariners, then just being saved for Seattle by a new ownership team headed by John Ellis, CEO of the new Mariners. Mather smiled as he recalled that the small-market group he represented began with five teams and others kept opting in as they liked the way he was negotiating, until the commissioner called as halt at about a dozen small markets

Mather remembers an example of not every team with a lot of money wanting to share.

"George Steinbrenner (the late owner of the New York Yankees) said to Ellis, 'you mean I am going to spend millions of dollars for this sad-case baseball team in the Northwest? We should buy you and put you out of your misery.'"

"John looked at me for a response and I didn't have one," Mather joked to the breakfast audience.

I asked him how the Mariners had done, assuming that some years they had been on the receiving end of the sharing, but he said the team has basically been a payer, to the tune of $20 million to $22 million a year ever, ever since the plan went into effect in 1995.

So when the Mariners needed to go looking for a CFO, they knew where to look, and while thereafter Mather was in Seattle through the glory days when the Mariners were virtually among the best teams in baseball, he's suffered with the fans through the down years as attendance slipped the past three years to 500,000 below the MLB average attendance.

Mather takes pleasure in noting that attendance this year will be above two million after three years below that mark.

And he freely attributes part of the return of the fans to another of those areas beyond his control. That's the impact the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks have had on Seattle sports fans, saying "there's no doubt that the Seahawks have had a positive impact on fan support for all professional sports, including the Mariners."

But within Mather's control is his conviction that the long-term view will guide decisions on players and building the roster, convinced that the position players now in development in the minors represent stars of the future for the Mariners. "They are the key to our winning 95 games a year in a few years"
 
And he credits General Manager Jack Zduriencik, who last month got a long-term contract extension, with positioning the franchise "to be a contender for many years to come."

Jack has never been a short-term thinker," says Mather, whose philosophy is "it's easier to fill a hole in free agency than with trades, because you just give up money in free-agency deals but trades require you to give up players."

Mather says that one goal he outlined when he met with the ownership team for the first time after assuming the new post, was "to still be playing meaningful games into September." That goal has been achieved, and "meaningful games" may still include the post-season.

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Recalling how a world poured out grief on our behalf is important memory at 9/11 anniversary

The compelling question for citizens of this nation to ponder on the anniversary of 9/11 is whether the global regard that existed then, as evidenced by the outpouring of grief that came that day in our behalf, would be evidenced today. And if not, why not.

 

On the 10th anniversary 9/11, I shared here a column written a few days after that tragic September day by a former United Press International colleague, Al Webb, who did a wrapup of the global grief that citizens of every country shared on our behalf. Webb's article, written from his post in London, captured that display of shared pain in a way that deserved remembering.

I shared it again last year, and do so this year since his article conveyed the sense of a national treasure of global regard for us. And so we now need to ask ourselves: in the more complex world that exists today, as international relationships ebb and flow with events, has that regard been diminished? That perhaps represents a question that deserves reflection on this anniversary of 9/11.

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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 four decades 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 air waves, 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 cancope 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. 

That said it all. 

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Business groups seek statewide grassroots support for strategy for prosperity issues

The presidents of three major business organizations in the state went on the road this summer, logging 1,000 miles by car to visit with business people in a dozen communities in an effort to create a common strategic focus for not just the coming legislative session, but beyond.

As Kris Johnson, preparing for his first legislative session as president of Association of Washington Business, ticked off the issues that emerged as a shared priority list from the various gatherings, the issues don't have an ideological ring to them.

Rather seeking to build a 21st century strategy for education and talent, job creation and investment and how to create an efficient transportation system for the state would seem to have appeal across the ideological spectrum.

Kris Johnson

But of course the shared vision of the business community on how to achieve those will differ from the views of an administration and Legislature that tends, with both houses and the governor's office controlled by Democrats, to be suspicious about business goals.

Johnson and Steve Mullin, president of the prestigious Washington Roundtable, along with Richard Davis, longtime president of the Washington Research Council and, in many respects the voice for business issues in his media columns, traveled together to the meetings.

In addition to hearing directly from about 400 business leaders and employers in the various communities, Johnson said there will be "an open survey portal, an online link basically, to provide a voice for those business people who didn't get to attend but want to have input for the discussion."

The details of the road trip and the plan for development of the first real grassroots strategy for businesses in the state will be outlined at AWB's 25th annual Policy Summit at Suncadia Sept. 16-18.

Thereafter, the process will involve continuing to be in touch with the groups involved in the summer meetings while Davis finalizes the actual rollout of the plan by December in time for a planned meeting with the legislators themselves prior to the commencement of the 2015 session.

The Washington Roundtable, chaired this year by Avista Utilities' president and CEO Scott Morris, and composed of the senior executives from the state's major private-sector employers, has tended to focus on the broad policy issues that haven't always been in sync with the concerns of small businesses around the state.

And in some respects, the challenges of geographic differences have almost become more daunting than ideological splits for efforts to build a cohesive grassroots strategy for business.

But with interlocking boards, the three organizations will be part of a shared vision going into the forthcoming legislative session.

And in addition, the business organizations have brought on Rich Hadley, the retired longtime and widely respected president of the chamber of commerce in Spokane, now Greater Spokane Inc., who retired earlier this year. His initial assignment is to bring the major chambers of commerce around the state on board with the coordinated planning.

"Face-to-face meetings can help create a broader vision that everyone can come to agree on," Hadley said. "I think the sincerity of a dialogue to bring people together from all parts of the state can overcome the inevitable efforts to divide the state with classic division-creating descriptions like Cscde Curtain."

Johnson says of the cooperative effort of the three organizations: "We are putting a lot of time and resources to build a comprehensive grassroots strategy to help employers to advocate and educate their elected officials."

There are likely to be strong legislative headwinds as lawmakers return to Olympia in January for their long session in which they face an estimated shortfall of about $1 billion before addressing any of likely additional costs to meet the state Supreme Court mandates on education funding.

Mike Schwenk, recently retired from Pacific Northwest National Labs where he was director of technology deployment and is the incoming chair of AWB, noted that the grassroots efforts is to get the voices of businesses in the 37 counties that have had varying degrees of challenge in their recovery, heard by lawmakers and policymakers.

"The key to all this is creating a plan that comes alive for the businesses around the state to buy into the strategy and understand it's their plan also," Schwenk said.

"We tend to forget about or be knowledgeable enough about the rest of the state," Johnson said. "The other 37 counties (beyond King and Snohomish) need a vehicle to communicate what's on their mind."

A key to all this is what skeptics may view as an elusive goal of helping lawmakers understand the ties between a healthy private sector, in all parts of the state, and the needs of those whose jobs depend on the state's economic vitality.

"One realization that needs to come out of this is that the economy of this state can't be easily subdivided, Davis said. "We need policies that are statewide. The Legislature needs to come to understand that we are not coming up with a business agenda so much as a prosperity agenda."

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Yakima Court ruling could be key to assisting goal of creating Latino-community power

Latino leaders in Washington who have sought to get the state's rapidly growing Latino population to find ways to work together, both in business and politics, may now have found the key to greater cooperation in the potential fallout from a federal court ruling last week

Judge Thomas Rice ordered the City of Yakima to change its election system, which he said violated the Voting Rights Act by denying Latinos full participation in City Council races. He said Yakima's at-large elections block representation by Latinos, who represent a third of the city's voting-age population.

"What's going on in Yakima has been a problem for a long time in the counties as well," said Gene Juarez, who grew up in the Yakima Valley to become arguably the state's most successful Latino businessman as founder and CEO of Gene Juarez Salons and Spas.

Gene Juarez

The reality is that if districts need to be carved out in city elections in place of at-large races, and perhaps even in future races for county commissioner, it will represent opportunity for Latinos to begin learning how to flex their muscle.

Afterall, Latinos make up 30 to 50 percent of the population in some Eastern Washington counties, and as much as 80 to 90 percent in some cities.

But first will have to come a cultural change for Latinos, whose leaders say they must learn the importance of organization and cooperation.

Jorge Madrazo, a leading figure in the administrations of two Mexican presidents and now a key executive with Seamar, the Washington state's largest 501c3 and focused on providing healthcare to low-income citizens with an emphasis on Latinos, says "we need to learn how to organize and learn the value of organizing."

Enrique Cerna, the prize-winning journalist for KCTS public television in Seattle, observes that coordination of the state's rapidly growing Latino population, which grew by 71 percent between 2000 and 2010 "has been a real challenge."

The federal court ruling may spur more interest among both Latinos and key supporters in the first-ever sketch of the significant and growing part of the Central Washington business community that Latino businesses represent, a survey conducted and tallied in a program at Eastern Washington University..

The study, guided by D. Patrick Jones, Ph.D., executive director of the Institute for Public Policy & Economic Analysis at EWU, painted the first real picture of the Latino entrepreneurial community and debunked some key stereotypes about Latinos taking advantage of government services.

The data for the EWU report came from interviews conducted with Latino business owners in Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Spokane Counties by Martin Meraz-Garcia of the school's Chicano Education Program.

And the data would suggest the Latino business owners are often the kind of entrepreneurs routinely applauded by those who praise the entrepreneurial spirit of classic American success stories.

Fully 65 percent of the business entrepreneurs interviewed were first-generation immigrants who came to the U.S. with only the clothes on their backs and very little in the way of skills but with the dream of someday becoming business owners themselves. And 87 percent started their businesses with their own personal savings and without assistance from financial institutions.

Patrick Jones

The study, which Jones expects will be followed up with similar surveys in other counties with heavily Hispanic/Latino populations, notes that first-generation immigrants were the biggest share of participants, at 65 percent of the overall sample. And he adds that 87 per cent of the Latino entrepreneurs started their businesses with their own personal savings and without assistance from financial institutions.

Juarez, who jokes that he early on earned his PhD, which he explains means Personal Hair Dresser, thinks that the issue of Latino business owners not being able to qualify for the usual level of security for bank loans could be addressed by the SBA modifying its standards to allow banks to accept those with low security for their loans.

Juarez, who became one of the most salon owners in the country, describes himself as a conservative and says his view of redistribution of wealth "is to dispense it to those who want to work, and Hispanics are hard workers with a hardworking cultural background."

Madrazo, who was chairman of Mexico's National Commission for Human Rights for one Mexican president, then attorney general of Mexico from 1996 to 2000, adds "Latinos need to learn how to work together and change our way of thinking."

Madrazo, who in 2011 took over and re-energized the Northwest chapter of U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and now guides business development for the only healthcare entity aiming to attend to the growing Latino population in the state, chuckles when he says "learning how to do public relations is the most challenging thing on the planet for all Latinos."

Cerna, born in 1953 in Yakima seven years after his parents arrived there from Mexico, says "the challenge is trying to get Latinos to work together and thus there's currently an inability to be a strong political force."

The immigration issue looms large for the Latino business people interviewed in the EWU survey by Martín Meraz-Garcia of the school's Chicano Education program, with many of the business people citing immigration raids and recent audits of companies as the primary reason for the slowdown of economic activity in some areas, Jones said.

There is a lot to suggest that immigration may be the issue that brings the community focus and the ability to work together that Latino leaders see as missing for Washington's Latino population that now represents just under 12 percent of total state population and has grown by 72 percent from 2000 to 2010.

Particularly since a key finding in the interviews conducted for Jones' study by Martina Garcia, Ph.D., how deeply felt and positively viewed immigration reform is among these Latino entrepreneurs.

Jones, formerly an executive at Spokane's Intercollegiate Research and Technical Institute and the first head of the Biotechnology Association of the Spokane Region, says "this business sector will be a very important base of the business community in the next generation or so."

But more near term, he notes "the challenge is to engage these people, because then the question will be to what extent will the Latino vote influence the 2016 elections."

Before 2016, of course, there are the 2014 elections, and a coupleor other interesting Latino developments are the 1st Congressional District campaign by Pedro Celis, who won the Republican nomination to seek to unseat Democratic incumbent Susan Del Bene, and the planned Seattle fund raiser for a Democratic Congressman running for re-election in California's Coachella Valley.

Celis, a former Microsoft engineer who would be the state's first Latino congressman, sums up his view on the immigration issue as "wider doors and higher fences," but adding "we need to make iteasier to come into the country legallyand "trying to deport 11 million people is not only impossible but not in our best interest as a nation."

And intriguing in election-year politics is the political fund-raiser being planned in Seattle for Raul Ruiz, Democratic congressman from California's 38th District encompassing the Coachella Valley.

The fundraiser is being organized by Ralph Ibarra, a third generation American of Mexican descent who is a self-described advocate and activist for the Hispanic/Latino community, is attracting support from both within Latino ranks and beyond for his fund-raising for Ruiz, a Harvard MD.

"It is critical that Latina/Latino elected leaders like Dr. Ruiz remain in place so that the interests of Hispanic/Latino Americans are championed at the highest levels of government," explained Ibarra,who consults with corporations and institutions on Latino affairs but has a particular focus on 9-11 veterans and their families.

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BankWork$, creating banking opportunity for at-risk job seekers, announces national expansion

(Editor's note: This column is being sent today as an added

"Harp" because of the going-national move of an award-winning Seattle program we have written about several years ago.)

------ 

 BankWork$, the initiative by former top bank executive Les Biller to create a career foothold in his old industry for people from inner-city and at-risk neighborhoods, is about to move from its successful launches in Los Angeles and Seattle to a national program, beginning with three new cities this fall.

 

Biller, who after his retirement as vice chairman and chief operating officer of Wells Fargo conceived the idea of training specially selected job seekers to be bank tellers and convinced a group of local banks in the two cities to get involved, has now created a multi-million-dollar plan to take BankWork$ national.

 

The national rollout commences this fall in the San Francisco Bay Area with Phoenix and Portland to come aboard in 2015 with three bank partners Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Wells each committing $1 million a year for five years with the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation matching that.

 

The success of BankWork$, first in Los Angeles where about 130 people a year are being placed in teller roles since 2006, then Seattle once Biller and his wife, Sheri, relocated to the Northwest and he had become chairman of Sterling Bank, spurred him to decide to take the program national.

 

To head the program and guide its growth into a national presence, Biller has hired Colleen Anderson, a long-time banking executive and a former colleague of Biller's at Wells, where she capped her 22-year career there in the roles of executive vice president and head of both business banking and California banking.

 

Biller explained that Anderson, who most recently was executive vice president in charge of all aspects of business and consumer banking for Pasadena-based OneWest Bank, "was looking at what she wanted to do next and decided that BankWork$ was an opportunity to give back."

 

The BankWork$ office will be in Los Angeles, although Biller will be highly involved in the growth of BankWork$ from his Seattle office.

 

Anderson may well serve as inspiration, as well as role model for those selected to participate in the training to become tellers since she recalls that her career began in a position called "proof operator, a position one level below teller that no longer exists."

 

Biller explained that Portland, Phoenix and the Bay Area were selected to be the first of what he expects will be a dozen or more Bankwork$ cities in five years because the three partner have substantial presences in the three cities and and those cities have substantial low-income minority communities.

 

Biller explained that as other cities are selected each year toward the 12-15 target cities, other bank partners will be brought into the program, depending on what banks have key presence in each of the cities.

 

Biller envisions that each city will need to provide a governmental entity as a third partner, with California state and Los Angeles County helping fund the Los Angeles program and federal funding in Seattle.

 

He launched BankWork$, which he envisioned as the first step on a possible career ladder for those selected, in Los Angeles four years after he retired from Wells Fargo in 2002 at the age of 54 to allow him and his wife, Sheri, to turn their attention toward philanthropic activities, including formation of a family foundation.

 

The idea for BankWork$ was borne out of Biller's commitment to education and a realization that "education is too often pretty low on the priority list in homes where there are a lot of other issues facing the families." he said in an interview we did as he launched the program in Seattle.

 

"I figured a key step was putting parents of those kids to work in jobs that paid above the minimum wage at the outset and provided career options for the future. Then education for the kids would move up the priority list," he said.

 

It was after the Billers relocated to Seattle four years ago that, with the Los Angeles BankWork$ program having successfully graduated and placed hundreds of people, that he decided it was time to launch the program in a second city, his new home.

 

He says he realized that the program offered the opportunity to marry the needs of business with the needs of the community because many of the teller jobs at banks are jobs that "are basically the same from bank to bank, and many use the same equipment to accomplish the tasks."

 

 "We had to prove that it made economic sense for the banks, as well as the city and others who would be responsible for future funding as the program went on," Biller said, adding that he thinks

the results have been the proof.

 

 "We've had about a 75 percent graduation rate, about 70 percent are being employed by banks and 10 percent hired by other businesses," he said. The per-student cost is running about $4,000.

 

"Once they're hired, we make an effort to ensure they stay with the bank, remaining in close contact with the new hires for six months," Biller said. "We have some who have already received several promotions and raises since hiring."

 

So as Biller prepares to take BankWork$ national, he thinks the concept could also grow beyond banking.

 

"A very important part of this is that in a sense it goes beyond banking," Biller said. "We could do this across a number of industries where the demand is high enough and the positions similar for various companies, thus reducing the cost of each person being trained.

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Could job losses at Amgen and Dendreon mean opportunity for talent-seeking biotech startups?

The long death rattle at once high-flying Dendreon Corp. made this week's announcement of its likely demise less of a shock to Washington's biotech industry than last month's sudden-death announcement for Amgen's Seattle presence, but make no mistake that it represents another blow to the sector.

The departure of Amgen from Seattle by year end is due to its need to amass more cash for its continued growth and quest for new drugs while the potential demise of Dendreon is due to the fact its only drug is no longer competitive.

Dendreon, which makes the prostate-cancer drug Provenge, nearly fell off the stock-price landscape when it announced that it wouldn't be able to meet the $620 in convertible notes due to be paid in January and said the steps it was considering would leave shareholders with worthless paper. It's also likely to leave its workforce jobless.

Regardless of the causes, the job-loss result is the same for the Seattle area.

With Amgen eliminating 600 jobs in Seattle and 60 at its Bothell manufacturing plant, the demise of dendreon, which has more than 700 employees, may leave as many as 1,200 from the biotech industry out of work, possibly the most ever at one time looking for new positions.

For those who see opportunity in adversity, there is the view that this may represent an ideal time for the area's numerous biotech startups to corral some talent that would otherwise be beyond their possible reach.

The idea is that some of those biotech startups may be appealing enough to prompt some of the out-of-work talent to come on board for stock and the promise of future executive roles.

Some of the startups are at least seeking to reach out to see if such interest might be ferreted out on their behalf. And certainly there are some enthusiasm-inducing startups in the biotech space.

Historically, the Seattle biotech community has been a self-sustaining ecosystem," observes Melanie Kitzan, one of this area's most respected patent attorneys who worked with a number of small companies in the biotech space for several law firms before becoming a manager at Intellectual Ventures.

 

"Startups are bought by big pharma and, in some cases, the local shops are shuttered, which provides for a re-seeding of those biotech folks into new startups and the cycle continues," she added.

 

"There is some fear that without a big pharma anchor in the area anymore, with the closing of Amgen's facilities in Seattle, that the biotech community could decline, but it could also be seen as opening new fertile ground of great talent to start the next generation of Seattle start-ups," Kitzan suggested.

 

But James Bianco, founder and CEO of publicly traded Cell Therapeutics Inc., thinks it would be "unusual" if some of the exiting scientists and others at Amgen or Dendreon opted to join startups for stock and future roles.

 

"The critical factor for biotech employees is whether or not there is a safety net in the community, meaning a wide selection of other biotech companies that could be or are hiring," Bianco said.

"That is why it is difficult to recruit in this sector in the NW and we lose many good candidates to San Francisco or San Diego.," he added. "As such, after being laid off by the largest biotech company, it would be highly unlikely they would have risk tolerance for a startup let alone in the Noethwest."

He also suggested that "Amgen didn't likely give more than the traditional payouts, which would probably be 3-6 months on average." 

Observers point out that Dendreon doesn't even have a product to sell, but merely a $93,000 process by which the body's immune system is trained to attack cancer cells and one industry executive noted in the period of time since Provenge was approved, two other major advancements were approved for metatastic protate cancer, both pills rather than a pricey process.

"Their process will be deemed not worthy of continuing commercialization," the executive said, nothing that Dendreon has been unsuccessfully looking for a buyer for more than a year.

Whether the displaced biotech employees of the two firms opt to pursue careers in more fertile biotech infrastructures like the Bay Area, San Diego or Boston, or wish to remain here badly enough to pursue opportunity at one of the small startups remains to be determined.

But their decisions could play a key role in whether the future stars of biotech may yet emerge here because of the marriage of promising innovation with experienced scientists and executives. 

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Yakima Valley hop growers benefitting from surge in growth of craft-brewing industry

As craft beer comes to rival quality wine as a palate pleaser for the discriminating, the hop industry whose bitter green cones give the beer its special taste is surging and thus playing an increasingly important role in the economy of the Valley and also Washington State.

 

The fields of grapes for Washington's successful and growing wine industry are spread across the Yakima Valley while the fields where the hops are grown are far less visible and the acres less numerous. But the fact is that hop growers and their industry, by far the largest in the nation, predate the wine industry by several decades.

Now the hop industry, after years of ups and downs that were mostly downers, is riding a growth wave thanks to the surging popularity of craft beer, most of which is brewed with hops from the Yakima Valley.

"The hop industry is booming right now and adding huge value to the Yakima Valley economy," says David McFadden, president of the Yakima County Development Association. "We are seeing hop processors purchase new buildings, add new equipment and boost local payrolls. Agriculture is very strong right now and hops are complementing our farmers' livelihoods." 

Ann George

For comparison, it's important to note that the hop industry's approximately $160 million annual contribution to Washington's economy is only 14th on the state's agricultural-products values and just a slice of the $2.25 billion annual production of the number one apple industry. But as McFadden notes, the industry's surge is bringing other benefits as well.

"The past few years have been an exciting up and thus a nice change for the industry," notes Ann George, who has been the chief administrator for the Washington Hop Industry association for 27 years and also serves as the chief administrative person for the Hop Growers of America.

"The success of the industry in the past few years has attracted back some of the young talent that had moved away from the farms," she adds, noting that many of the farmers are adding hops to their agricultural-product mix, with the acreage dedicated to hops being between one-quarter acre and 10 acres.

George is in Austria this week for the annual summer gathering of the International Hop Growers Convention, the global organization for hop growers where she chairs what may be the most important commission, called the Commission on Regulatory Harmonization. She thus is the global organization's key person in dealing with the trade and pesticide rules that are the primary challenge for craft brewing as the industry becomes ever more attractive globally, thus adding countries into which hops are sold.

George, one of whose duties is tracking statistics for the industry, says 74 percent of the 2014 hop crop will be from acreage in Washington State, 14 percent from Oregon (virtually all of that produced in the Willamette Valley) and 10 percent from Idaho.

Almost 90 percent of the U.S. hop production is exported to other countries, where craft-brewing industries are either already in existence of where the industry is beginning to take shape.

Most hop farmers in the Valley are third or fourth generation and one of the largest and best-known of those is B. T. Loftus Ranches, which began in 1932 when the first five acres of hops were planted by the great grandparents of current owners Patrick Smith, Meghann Quinn, and Kevin Smith.

 

The Bale Breaker Brewery, smack in the middle of the Lofus hop fields, opened in April of 2014 as the latest Loftus venture.

 

Germany, which produces 60 percent of the world's hops, and the Yakima Valley, which produces 25 percent of the world crop and 80 percent of the U.S. hop crop, are the two most noteworthy geographic areas for hop production.

Pete Mahony

 

Thus it's natural that there would be a convergence in some manner for the two most noted hop-producing regions. And the convergence is the decades-long presence in the Yakima Valley of the U.S. arm of the Barth-Haas Group, the world's largest supplier of hop products and services. Barth-Haas, founded in 1794, is now managed by the seventh and eighth generations of the Barth family and has roughly a 30 percent share of the hops market in Germany.

The U.S. arm of the company, John I. Haas, Inc., which owns and operates its own hop farms, warehouses, pellet and extraction plants and has been a fixture in the Yakima Valley hop industry for some 70 years, next month celebrates its 100th birthday.

Peter Mahony, who is Director of Supply Chain Management for John I. Haas, Inc., and has been with the Washington, D.C., based company for 28 years, explains that hops are "the spice of beer," giving the brew its flavor. And craft brewers use about 6-to-8 times as much hops as major brewers and their brews use one of the variety of what are called aroma hops, that magnify the beer flavor, whereas brewing used to involve what is known as alpha hops, still the primary hop for major breweries.

Mahony notes that acreage devoted to aroma hops in the Yakima Valley has become about 60 percent of the annual harvest, which extends from late August to early October and involves about 29,000 acres in the Yakima area with the average size farm about 450 acres on which hops are one of several crops grown.

Mahony, who says the 1,500 acres that Haas farms in the Valley is one planted in hops, expects that the growth of craft brewing and thus the health of the hop industry and its aroma varieties will continue, "but for how long is the million-dollar question."

He points to the attendance at the annual craft-brewers conference as a cause for long-term optimism for hop growers, noting "attendance at this year's crafters' conference was up 40 percent over the year before, to more than 9,000 attendees."

If there is any doubt that craft brewing is attracting a whole new generation of beer consumers around the globe, it should be dispelled by the advise from a beer sommelier at a Barth tasting event in Germany.

To those who might not be familiar with the fact there are beer sommeliers, Ann George makes the point that "more and more hospitality groups have a beer sommelier as well as a wine sommelier."

As the sommelier quotes puts it: "You shouldn't drink our beers when you're thirsty. Our beers should be drunk in small quantities on special occasions."

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Microsoft leadership changes stir discussions of competition-collaboration workplace issue

Some are seeing the sea change in the leadership styles of the new CEOs of both Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as evidence that even the region's most competition-driven company might be acknowledging that the collaborative focus of workplace millenials could be superseding the competitive trademark of boomers.

Among those sharing that sense of a possible dramatic shift at Microsoft is John Buller, who has spent his life in sports and retail environments where keeping score and winning were the keys to success. But he admits now, as he observes what he perceives as a major workplace shift, that he was always dogged by the sense that somehow collaboration had a place in the success equation.

Anna Liotta

Buller was a top executive at the old Bon Marche retail chain, as well as successful restaurateur, president of Tully's Coffee, and in his collegiate days in the late '60s a Husky basketball star then an assistant coach.

He sees the ascendance of Satya Nadella to the top role at Microsoft and the hiring of Susan Desmond-Hellman as CEO of the Gates Foundation as significant.

So does Anna Liotta, Seattle author and speaker who counsels businesses on unlocking generational codes to enhance workplace effectiveness.

John Buller

"I think it's fundamental for Microsoft, it if is to have exponential growth again, to shift from combative to collaborative in its workplace environment," Liotta said. "Microsoft employees don't now talk with pride about working at Microsoft, and this newest generation will need attitudes and beliefs they share and need to be proud to be where they work and work together in a collaborative environment in order to want to stay."

As a recent article in Puget Sound Business Journal pointed out, "Nadella is a very different man from (Steve) Ballmer. Where Ballmer is bombastic and over the top, Nadella is understated and thoughtful."

Buller makes the point that a similar shift in thinking could have had a role in the selection of Susan Desmond-Hellman, M.D., plucked from her role as chancellor of the University of California San Francisco to be the first non-Microsoft CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Of course Microsoft isn't the only regional company where must-win attitudes have been the key to success. It's merely the major local company whose recent eye-catching changes in command at the corporate and foundation have sparked the opportunity for conversations about what lies ahead in the workplace culture.

It would be difficult to think of many successful companies in the Seattle area for which competitive juices haven't played a ke y role in their success.

Teri Citterman

Thus the thoughts about boomer competitiveness giving way to millennial collaborations inevitably stir conversations where doubt or disagreement are sometimes as much in evidence as agreement.

Buller, in fact, is an interesting persona to be focusing on the transition, which he is doing to the extent of packaging a seminar and producing a blog to help guide corporate executives.

Buller is intimately familier with culture changes since his role as senior team leader for Federated Stores and its The Bon outlets was to engineer one, guiding a shift from "a clerk culture to a sales culture," as he describes the charge.

It was 20 years ago that his Survival Guide for Bureaucratic Warriors was published, with chapters written on first-class flights as he crisscrossed the country to train employees on changing their culture.

"Warriors work for a passion in their lives while soldiers just take orders," Buller said, summing up the premise for the book, and suggesting that "the way to make millenials more passionate and engaged, becoming warriors, is to let them have ownership."

"It's a fallacy to suggest that competition and collaboration are diametrically opposed," Liotta said. "Millenials do love to win, but within that they love to also know their part in the winning, meaning millenials want a lot of feedback on how they are doing," Liotta said of the generation that numbers 76 million in the workplace. That number, incidentally, compares with 80 million boomers.

"A winning attitude is absolutely in line with an attitude of collaboration," she added. "Millenials just don't accept the bankrupt strategy of win at all costs."

Liotta comes by her generational savvy from birth on since she notes in her book Unlocking Generational Codes that "as number 18 in a family of 19 children, I started to experience generational impacts on life at a very early age."

She is CEO of Resultance Inc., where her consulting services and guidance on generational issues have brought her before business organizations around the country.

Another person who has explored workplace issues, but from the CEO's viewpoint, is Teri Citterman, whose recently publishedFrom the CEO's Perspective is a collection of interviews with CEO's from a range of companies on the challenges of leadership.

"A characteristic of millenials is that they expect their ideas will be heard or appreciated, even though they haven't necessarily earned the right to be heard or appreciated," said Citterman, also a GenXer.

"Yes, collaboration is replacing competition as a workplace theme, you can see that everywhere," she said. "competition is a four-letter word."

This discussion is likely to become more pervasive at lunch meetings and cocktail visits, particularly for boomers, or the even older generation tagged Traditionalists, who would have to change the codes of a lifetime to believe companies can win out over competitors without competition being the mantra.

As Buller and I discussed this over coffee for our interview, together we came up with the tagline: "In today's world you will have to learn to collaborate in order to win." 

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Lange-Vessella partnership that became IPCR lured to Seattle 25 years ago

It's been a quarter century since the unusual team of an academic prof and a medical doctor was lured to Seattle to launch what would became the Institute for Prostate Cancer Research (IPCR), where a world-class team and leading-edge initiatives have made Seattle a nexus for prostate cancer research and care.

 

Paul Lange, M.D. and Robert Vessella, PhD, had already been a team at the University of Minnesota for a dozen years when they decided in 1989 to accept an offer to come to the University of Washington to launch the collaborative effort that a few years later would officially become IPCR. By then it would be a collaboration between University of Washington Medical Center and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

 

Paul Lange, M.D.

In a sense, Lange and Vessella were medical opportunists in deciding to focus on a cancer for which they thought "there might be a light at the end of the tunnel," despite the fact that at that point there was basically no funding available for prostate-cancer research. "No one really cared at the time about an old man's disease," Lange recalled.

 

Appropriately but coincidentally, the 25th anniversary of the Lange-Vessella partnership in Seattle comes as IPCR is in the midst of a $20 million fund-raising campaign aimed at creating an innovative program for individualized treatment of prostate-cancer sufferers around the state.

 

Plus it was recently announced that IPCR will be part of a team of prestigious institutions to participate in a $10 million grant from the Stand Up to Cancer program, which is supported by the American Association of Cancer Research and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

 

Robert Vessella, Ph.D

IPCR will be partnering with Harvard, University of Michigan, Sloan Kettering and London University, names that indicate the role that IPCR has come to play in prostate-cancer research around the world.

 

The image that has developed since the UWMC and The Hutch collaboration became formal as IPCR in about 2000 is such that there's a growing sense that it could well be the place where a cure for the disease, now certainly when rather than if, comes about.

 

IPCR ranks third in the country for federal funding, with about $10 million in 2012, and is in the top five in prostate-cancer funding, Lange says. Over the years, he estimates, at least $60 million, mostly from NIH, has come to IPCR, a number made more impressive by the fact it doesn't include the 50 percent "institutional overhead" that UW takes from the original grant amount. The Hutch takes 60 percent.

 

But ironically, IPCR has dramatically lagged in raising the private funds that the NIH views as a key to its own funding decisions.

 

"We are significantly behind the eight to 10 prostate-cancer research institutions in the country in keeping up with private fund raising, which is essential if we are to retain a world-class team and explore new ideas that need to be developed because they are not yet primetime enough for the NIH to fund," says Lange.

 

Thus the importance of the fund-raising campaign now under way called ACT-SMART, which seeks to raise $20 million over five years from private sources to create relationships with a dozen or more medical facilities around the state in developing individualized treatment programs for residents of various communities.

 

The goal of ACT-SMART is to sequence the whole genome of patients and their prostate cancers, focus on the most important abnormal genes in the cancer and then devise a targeted individualized treatment program, then patients are sent home to have their individualized treatment carried out in their hometown medical facility.

 

"We are going to use genomic medicine to determine what the patient's genes show, then develop targeted therapies aimed at the specific cancer," Lange said, noting that eventually the program will be extended to Oregon, then Idaho and Montana.

 

A couple of developments in the early '90s assured IPCR's emergence as a world-class institute in the field of prostate-cancer research and cemented a pre-eminent role for Lange and Vessella as globally recognized leaders in the quest for answers to prostate cancer.

 

One of those developments came in 1992 with an innovation called "rapid autopsies" that has attracted the attention of researchers both nationally and internationally as well as pharmaceutical companies. It's a process in which cancer tissue that has metastasized is removed from the bodies of a deceased prostate-cancer victims with the same speed and precision as organs are removed for transplant.

 

The roughly 100 such autopsies that Lange's team has performed since the process was pioneered at IPCR, and which are conducted at only one other institution in the county, allow harvested cancer cells to be implanted in mice. Lange says about 15 percent of the implants take, becoming what are referred to thereafter as "tumor avatars," and producing thousands of samples.

 

Another key development in 1992 was a partnership that emerged with Leroy Hood, who had recently arrived at the University of Washington, with funding from Bill Gates Jr, to found and chair the Molecular Biotechnology Department.

 

Hood, already internationally prominent as developer of the automated DNA sequencer that was the key to the human genome project, recalled in an interview how he and Lange, both heading departments at UW, got together at a retreat to discuss how genomics could be applied to prostate-cancer research.

 

"We decided to work together and I outlined on a napkin at dinner a genomic approach to prostate-cancer research," Hood recalls. "Then Paul and I agreed to help Michael Milkin, as he created a series of seminal meetings on the genomic approach to prostate cancer."

 

"Lee was hugely instrumental in putting us in the national spotlight," Lange said. "Thanks to a variety of influences, Lee decided to devote a large part of his translational research efforts to prostate cancer. The support of the Michael Milkin organization to the tune of about $12 million over the years was largely due to the participation of Lee and his group in our research efforts."

 

Hood continued to work with Lange and Vessella until he left UW in 2000 to found the Institute for Systems medicine, which he still heads.

 

It was in 1993 that Lange and Vessella began discussing with researchers at The Hutch the idea of teaming to form an institute. And that was also the year that the first grant, from the NIH O'Brien Center, was received, for $2.8 million in direct costs over a five-year period, at the end of which it was renewed again for another five years.

 

Lange routinely ascribes human characteristics to the cancer he seeks to conquer, possibly viewing the opponent whose ways occupy much of his attention as a worthy foe. Thus he characterizes the PSA test, which he helped gain approval for in testimony on its benefits before the FDA on several occasions in the early '90, as "allowing us to know what the cancer is thinking."

 

And in explaining to a listener that the prostate cancer his team deprived of the testosterone it needed to survive soon began a comeback, Lange's voice rises to exclaim: "It learned to live without it!" Then he continues to explain, replaying the excited frustration he likely felt at the time, as further research determined "no, it learned to make its own testosterone! Like the cancer said 'hey guys, we're going to get really sick if we don't do something about this!.'"

 

But that finding was a research victory because it indicated that the understanding that cancer needed testosterone to survive was accurate.

 

Perhaps by attributing those human characteristics to his foe, the victory over prostate cancer, when it comes, will feel more personal and thus more satisfying for Lange, whose personal battle included his having to undergo surgery for his own prostate cancer a few years ago.

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Angel-investor group fears SEC will change accreditation rules and shrink angel ranks

Although the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hasn't yet proposed an increase in the financial resources required for an individual investor to be accredited, the Angel Capital Association (ACA) fears such a move may loom ahead and has been pressing its members to collectively protest such a step.

The ACA sees the issue as having the potential to dramatically deplete the ranks of what are officially called accredited investors, individuals who are free to make the kind of high-risk investments that fuel the funding of financially risky early stage companies that are key contributors to job creation. All angels are accredited investors

Dan Rosen

The issue is front and center right now because when Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act four years ago, it retained the long-time "accredited investor" threshold of $1 million net worth and $200,000 of annual income but ordered the SEC to do a quadrennial review of the qualifications. The first of those four-year reviews is to be due to conclude next month.

Angel-investor groups successfully overcame an attempt to include in Dodd-Frank a change that would have basically disqualified what by some estimates would have been up to 50 percent of angel investors by boosting the accredited minimums to $2.5 million net worth and annual individual income of $400,000.

But Congress did include in what is officially the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act a change to preclude primary residences from the $1 million-net-worth calculation.

The ACA website plays the job-creation card in preparing for a possible campaign by urging members: "Do you believe in preserving the health of early stage companies and their role in job creation? Then join the Angel Capital Association campaign to 'protect angel funding.'"

Dan Rosen, chairman of the Seattle-based Alliance of Angels and a longtime leader in ACA, says "a change to make the accredited investor definition more restrictive is exceedingly bad public policy."

"This is a time when America needs to unleash innovation and create exactly the kind of jobs that high-growth startups provide," argues Rosen, who until a few months ago chaired the ACA public policy committtee . "Angels fund most of these high-growth startups, investing well over $20-billion per year." 

"We are not financial institutions in New York or Boston, we are individuals in every major city and town in the U.S. who invest not only our money, but also our knowledge and experience, to help these high-growth startups get off the ground and flourish," wrote Rosen, who is CEO and president of Dan Rosen & Associates, a technology investment and advisory firm

Although the multi-part mission of the SEC includes helping facilitate capital formation, the agency makes clear its "investor protection mission" has become most compelling, particularly after the excesses that led up to the "Great Recession."

Thus there is an amusing bit of irony as the SEC may move to "protect" a major segment of the high-net-worth angel-investor category by removing their "accredited" status while preparing to remove protections for scores or "unaccredited" investors by opening the door for them to do crowd-funding investment in startups.

Crowd funding is a concept spawned by legislation known as the JOBS Act, passed by Congress four years ago to permit entrepreneurs or a start-up business to raise up to a $1million a year by selling equity on the internet to up to 500 "unaccredited" investors. Some described passage of the bill and its signing by the president as a "democratization of investments." In essence, Congress felt those across the financial spectrum should all have a chance to own a piece of a company.

The ACA says a survey of its 12,000 members, who are the most active angel investors in the country, found that if the definition of accredited investor was changed to add an inflation factor, which is the standard being urged by those pressing for a change, more than 25 percent of its members would fall below the new threshold. The inflation factor would relate to the inflation that has occurred since 1972, when the accredited regulation first came about.

ACA, whose campaign to bring pressure against the change includes form letter and email template on its website, says such a change would be "devastating," particularly outside the angel-heavy population centers of New York, California and Boston. It claims the number of angel investors across the country outside those three areas would fall by one third.

Even so, not all angels oppose raising the bar for individuals to quality as accredited investors.

Steven J. Schueth, president of First Affirmative Financial Network in Colorado Springs, who has been a leader in the sustainable and responsible investment industry for more than 20 years and created the prominent SRI Conference that rotates annually around the West, is one who isn't sure a change would be bad.

"With my fiduciary duty hat on, I could make the argument that an investor with only $1 million in liquid, investable net worth is probably too small to be investing in private deals," Scheuth said in an email exchange. "I don't think someone with only $1 million has any business playing in this game."

I have assumed that increasing the qualification for accredited investor might have a large impact on sustainable and renewable startups seeking investment and asked Schueth if there might be less S-R investing.

"Perhaps there would be, but would that be bad?  Maybe for entrepreneurs who are looking for capital from less-than-the-most savvy investors," he said. "But would it be bad for investors who now only meet the minimum accredited investor threshold?  Not in most cases.  There's a reason those rules were promulgated in 1972-to protect some people from themselves."

There are some investors who with some portion of their portfolio seek higher positive impact and care less about risk adjusted returns," Schueth added. "When I talk with these people, I try to help them think about making these kinds of investments out of their philanthropy budget; or at least know that the likelihood of making little or no financial return is a high probability."

I asked Schueth, whom I had quoted in previous columns because of his reputation in the sustainable and renewable investments arena, whether he thought it was interesting that while Congressional direction may guide a boost in what it takes to be qualified investor, crowd-funding is opening the door, also at congressional direction, to let everyone in.

"I don't believe I have ever heard anyone claim that Congress is a rational beast," he replied. 

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