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updated 2:54 PM CDT, Jul 28, 2018

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Montana's 'angel' investor sees changing values boosting state's investor appeal

Those who have watched or experienced Liz Marchi's commitment to provide funding for Montana entrepreneurs and startups for a decade might suggest that the term "angel investor" was coined specifically to describe her.

Liz Marchi
Liz Marchi 
It was 2003 that Marchi, who had arrived in Montana with three daughters and her then husband and settled in the Flathead Valley, decided to create the state's first angel fund, Frontier Angel Fund I. The fund closed in 2006 at $1.7 million, $300,000 more than she had hoped.   
     
She eventually guided the Kalispell-based fund, which had attracted investors from around the country who were either fans of or summer residents in the Big Sky Country, to lead three deals and gather a total of 12 active investments and was soon also overseeing angel groups that had sprung up in Missoula and Bozeman.

Because she successfully syndicated her deals with a number of other angel groups outside the state, she jokes that she has become "the grandmother of crowd funding." She's not referring to the formal definition of crowd funding but rather the syndication efforts she initiated that attracted a crowd of angels from numerous groups making small investments.

Now Marchi, who grew up near Jackson Hole, WY, but who had never been to Montana when she arrived here in 2000, says she is looking forward to making the investor-leader handoff to Will Price, whose roots in the state brought him back from Silicon Valley to create Next Frontier Capital, at $20 million the largest venture fund ever raised in the state.

Price, on the board of or a key executive with a number of Bay Area tech companies, did his due diligence on the attitudes of national venture and mergers & acquisitions firms toward Montana before making the move to Bozeman.

Price's fund, which closed last April a year following his decision to bring his family to the state where his father, Kent Price, is well known as Montana's first Rhodes Scholar and University of Montana board member, has already made two investments.

I've kidded Liz and her husband, Jon, who in 1978 founded Glacier Venture fund as the first venture fund in Montana and presided over it for 29 years, about being "Mr. and Mrs. Montana Money." To which she once responded: "We are more like Mr. and Mrs. Montana risk capital since we share a very high risk tolerance...and often share the consequences."

Although Marchi talks about making a handoff to Price, as well as "the next generation of angels, including some members of Fund II in their '30s, who slay me in terms of their abilities," she was completing the formation in August of $2.7 million Frontier Fund II, which has already invested $900,000 with syndication adding $300,000 for a total of $1.2 million already invested.

"We have 48 investors in 10 states and meet physically in Bozeman and the Flathead, alternating with a WebEx option," Marchi said, noting that investors met in Bozeman today, with investors from two continents and four states, including Montana investors from Bozeman and Kalispell to review three Bozeman companies.

That sounds less like "handing off" for the 62-year-old Marchi than welcoming the potential follow-on investment opportunity that venture capital can represent for angel. And she hopes Price's fund will provide.

She says she does have an agreement with Fund II to be the key administrator only for the next two years, but could opt to remain longer. And she is down to business cards representing her current five involvements.

But Marchi is genuinely pleased at the implications of the arrival in Montana of Price, who did his homework before deciding a venture fund could work in Montana.
Price shared with me the research he did with and his thoughts about how "changing values" will benefit Montana's ability to attract capital.

Montana was often dismissed as a "fly-over" state, meaning that the most viable potential investors on the east and west coasts usually just fly over on their way to the other coast.

But Price's SurveyMonkey sampling of both venture and merger & acquisitions firms and found that the appeal of the big sky to many increasingly disenchanted with urban challenges was strong but that direct air access is a challenge Montana must come to grips with.

Fully 70 percent of responding M&A firms said they would consider buying a company in Montana, even though 80 percent said they had never been to the state. And a third of the venture firms said they would consider doing a deal in Montana, although 47 percent said they had never been there.

The import of improved air access to a state that has no direct flights currently to the major markets was dramatically indicated with the response of M&A firms, 90 percent of whom said it was "important" or "Moderately important" to have direct air access to the market of their investment.

"That's something the state is going to have to address," Price said. "But I think it will be addressed."

Among venture firms, almost two thirds sad the quality of the local syndicate partner would determine their involvement.

Although Marchi herself has attracted investors from around the country, she observes that "Being away from the noise of the coasts keeps us grounded in an important way.

"The entire conversation and perception needs to move about rural America, what is going on here and its role in making our economy and our country work better," she said, expressing the principle that has guided her commitment to Montana entrepreneurs.
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Life Science Discovery Fund prepares for what could be its most important grant

 

The life Sciences Discovery Fund, in a finale made possible by a $2 million error by a legislative leadership intent on ending state funding for the organization whose years of grants have enhanced Washington's life-science competitiveness, is preparing for what could be its most important grant-making decision.
 
The board of LSDF, which was created a decade ago from the state's $1 billion share of tobacco-settlement money to promote the growth of the life-science industry, will soon be reviewing four finalists for what are characterized as "ecosystem" grants. The $2 million will go to one or more organizations that can stimulate momentum toward commercializing life-science innovations.
 
And while details of the four applications will remain under wraps until the LSDF board reviews them late this month and on February 8 announces one or more awards, one application that would pair the commercialization activities of the state's two research universities should attract considerable interest when those details emerge. That teamed application from UW and WSU is intriguingly titled the "Concept-to-Commerce Coalition."
 
The word "legacy" is one that has begun to be used by those who lament the decision by lawmakers to defund LSDF and who believe that what Executive Director John DesRosier dubbed "ecosystem 2016" grants could serve to create a follow-on to LSDF's decade-long role of funding life-science innovation.

 
  
But DesRosier, who has guided LSDF since it came into existence in 2005, insists "we're not using the term 'wind down' since we want to keep our options open," although he is retiring in April.

And the fact the organization must remain in existence over the next two years to manage the 46 grants already awarded from the fund means LSDF can't just go away. And that leaves some supporters buoyed by the possibility that a new role could emerge for LSDF, possibly with an administrative role managing another type of health-related activity.

"LSDF is in a transition as a model that we know has to change in response to current circumstances, said board member Roger Woodworth, chief strategy officer for Spokane-based Avista Corp.

"It has been a wonderful asset for the state that has been remarkable in terms of attracting, administering and validating a variety of exceptional ideas," Woodworth added. "It is in transition but that doesn't mean we throw it away or shut it down."

The unanticipated opportunity for the "ecosystem 2016" grants came about when the lawmakers, primarily the Republican majority that was never invested in the value of LSDF, specified that while the funds LSDF needed to manage the existing grants would remain in its account, its remaining operating funds would shift back to the general fund.
 
Except that when the lawmakers spelled out the operating-funds total of $11 million, there was unexplainably almost $2 million left in the LSDF account, unallocated and not ordered sent to the general fund. So it remained under LSDF control.

DesRosier notes that the "ecosystem" grant competition will be different from individual grants LSDF has made to for-profit or non-profit life-science entities that have received pieces of the $106 million in grants made since 2007.

"This grant-making won't be about trying to perpetuate ourselves but rather be a key step to support the life-science ecosystem with funding support for one or more organizations that either already exist or would come to existence to stimulate momentum in commercialization," DesRosier said.

"The opportunity for the life-science sector in Washington is a huge one and that's why, when this fund was first created a decade ago, it was a smart way to begin to capture the enormous intellectual capital that existed in this state," says Carol Dahl, LSDF board chair.

 

Dahl, who is executive director of the Lemelson Foundation that supports what are called "impact inventions," points to the fact that almost 70 percent of the $1.5 billion in federal funds that flow into Washington each year is for life science.

 

But Dahl is among the many observers who seek ways to address the dilemma that while this state has developed one of the nation's most impressive life sciences non-profit sectors, it trails many other regions in the development of a for-profit sector. The Seattle area's biotech cluster, for example, is dramatically exceeded by the industry size in The Bay Area/Silicon Valley and San Diego, as well as places like Boston and North Carolina's Research Triangle.

As one national ranking of biotech clusters characterized it, the industry in the Seattle area is "being anchored more to academic and independent research institutions than local companies."

In other words, this state is experiencing a gap between early stage ideas and things that investors can be convinced to embrace.

"I believe in the future of the state's life science community, but there needs to be a change in people's willingness to invest in it," she said. "They need to develop a confidence about being part of the commercialization of what those federal dollars are producing in what has become one of the nation's most impressive life sciences non-profit sectors."

In fact, it was because of LSDF grants that a number of the emerging life science companies that are growing, creating jobs and carving out key roles in their industry were able to bridge what's famously known as "the valley of death" between concept and the time when investors can be lured to be involved.

Enhancing commercialization is what each of the four of the ecosystem grant applicants seeks to foster, including the team-grant proposal put together by UW and WSU.

Anson Fatland, the associate vice president for economic development and external affairs for Washington State University, explained how teaming with his UW counterpart came about after both universities had submitted initial proposals back in September when the plan for the life science eco-system grants was first unveiled by LSDF.

Fatland noted that once he and Patrick Shelby, who directs the New Ventures group at the UW Center for Commercialization, were both invited to submit full proposals, "we decided to sit down and talk about what we were trying to do."

"We realized we had a truly unique opportunity for innovation activities across the state, allowing the industry to really talk about a legacy grant," Fatland said.

The other applicants are Accelerator Corp., which is seeking money for a commercialization funding program; the Washington Biotech and Biomedical Association, and what's called the Southsound Research Coalition, which also involves UW along with Madigan Army Medical Center and Multicare Healthcare Systems.
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National attention in '22 bowl game fed thirst for grid glory at Gonzaga before basketball

As UW and WSU football fans bask in the satisfaction of 2015 bowl-game victories and the college football season comes to a climax with this week's NCAA national championship game, a few students of sports-history trivia may recall when a third team from the State of Washington played in a national-visibility bowl game.

That was back in 1922 when the San Diego East-West Christmas Classic was scheduled to pit Notre Dame against little Gonzaga College from Spokane. It attracted national attention in advance of the game because it was a dream matchup pitting the teams coached by Knute Rockne and Gus Dorais, the two men credited with teaming at Notre Dame to create the forward pass.

But the game wasn't to be as Notre Dame lost its last game of the '22 season to Nebraska and Rockne decided his team didn't deserve a post-season game. So what developed was even more of a David-and-Goliath game, matching Gonzaga against a West Virginia that was undefeated and a victor over the Pittsburgh team that would play in the Rose Bowl a week later on New Year's Day.

Conversation at a recent Christmas-holiday gathering of Gonzaga alums and fans from across the state visiting in advance of the Bulldogs' annual basketball game in Seattle to give Westside fans a chance to see the Zags play turned inevitably, during the climax of football season, to that San Diego bowl game, and the era when Gonzaga played football.

That's a clue that this is a special-interest column from one who grew up in Spokane and graduated from Gonzaga, a column thus likely of interest primarily to fans of Gonzaga athletics or Spokane prominence, but perhaps also for fans of the underdog, in whatever setting or era. Others may wish to move on to more interesting fare.

The fact that there was football at Gonzaga before there was basketball will amuse or intrigue some who have been impressed with Gonzaga's record of 17 consecutive trips to the NCAA basketball tournament.

Basketball has served to satisfy Gonzaga's hunger for national athletic prominence in a way that would have been too far fetched to have even been dreamed of in years past on the Gonzaga campus. But the fact is that the hunger for a "big time" role in sports was first nurtured on the football field, beginning back in the '20s.

For two turbulent decades Gonzaga pursued a dream of gridiron glory, spurred in part by the visibility in gained in that 1922 bowl game, only to become entangled by the late '30s in a morass that threatened financial ruin for the tiny school.

It was a story repeated often across the country, beginning in that splashy era of the 1920s, when all America burned incense to the god of sports and small, private colleges, struggling to compete with their bigger brothers for academic recognition, turned to football as a ticket to prestige and prominence.

Gonzaga was among the first of many small, mostly private, schools to seek football prominence, pursuing an Ozymandian delusion of grandeur that football could be the ticket to a wealthy campus and national renown.

But back to the 1922 game against a West Virginia team competing in its first bowl. Gonzaga was led by a triple-threat back named Houston Stockton, who as a sophomore was writing large on the national football scene as his grandson, John Stockton, would do on the collegiate basketball scene at Gonzaga and in the professional ranks 60 years later.

Stockton had already attracted national attention a year earlier when as a freshman at St. Mary's in California, he gained honorable mention honors on the most prominent All-America team in 1921. But he transferred to Gonzaga and quickly began to make his mark as a Bulldog.

In the home opener in a new $100,000 stadium before an overflow crowd of 5,600, Stockton turned in a stunning single-game performance, scoring six touchdowns and kicking 10 conversions for 46 points as Gonzaga beat Wyoming, 77-0.

The odds against Gonzaga on that Christmas Day were overwhelming and the way the game unfolded bore that out as West Virginia took a 21-0 lead into the fourth quarter. Then Gonzaga found itself. The Bulldogs scored two touchdowns, one by Stockton, in 10 minutes. With two minutes to go, Stockton (who rushed for 110 yards that final quarter) found future Gonzaga coach Mike Pecarovich in the end zone. But he dropped the ball. Final score: West Virginia 21, Gonzaga 13.

The game got an eight-column headline in the New York Times sports pages as Gonzaga won praise from coast to coast, lauded as "the Notre Dame of the West." A Chicago Tribune sports writer enthused that "West Virginia won. But it wasn't a Christmas present. Pulling a bone from an angry bulldog is not like getting a toy drum from Santa Claus."

Dorais and Stockton teamed for two more years, including an undefeated 1924 season. Then Stockton moved on to professional ball with the Frankfort Yellowjackets, predecessor to the Philadelphia Eagles, which he guided to the NFL championship in 1926. Dorais headed for the University of Detroit where he spent most of the rest of his coaching career.

A number of great players followed Stockton as Gonzaga stars. George (Automatic) Karamatic, who won a place on the 1936 All-America team, and Tony Canadeo, known as the "Grey Ghost of Gonzaga" for his prematurely gray hair, went on to stardom in pro ball, setting the Green Bay Packers' single-season rushing record.

Ray Flaherty, a member of the 1924 undefeated team, became an all-NFL end in a decade with the New York Giants. Then he was hired to coach the Washington Redskins and became one of the dominant coaches in the NFL, guiding the Redskins to two NFL titles and five division titles.

His teams always included a cadre of Gonzaga players whom Flaherty routinely drafted, explaining to me in an interview years ago "I'd take too much heat from my Spokane friends if I didn't draft each year's best Gonzaga players. Some never forgave me for letting Canadeo get away."

The outbreak of war in 1941 ended Gonzaga's pursuit of football fame, a quest that was doomed to die at some point, having cost the school the then-dramatic amount of $60,000 in its worst year and providing less than a dime of profit in the best.
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Gil Folleher, who built strong business-leader support for JA, remembered for his legacy

Junior Achievement, as an organization focused on enhancing young people's understanding of business and finances, has had a natural appeal to business executives and their companies. But Gil Folleher, who died over the weekend at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs at the age of 75, brought business-leader support for JA in the Seattle area to a near-evangelical level over his years guiding JA locally.

folleher
Gil Folleher 
Most importantly, perhaps, in the words of PEMCO CEO Stan McNaughton, he "left a legacy of footprints that will be followed for a long time. He was a king-maker-and the kids were the kings (and queens)."

The JA footprints in Washington state have left larger marks than the organization's impact in other states and that has been due to Folleher guiding involvement by executives at the highest levels of their companies.

In fact, he set a model for other non-profits to aspire to with a pattern from the late '80s through his retirement in 1998 of presidents or CEOs chairing, and being actively involved on, JA's board.

There are many important non-profit causes in this region, ranging from the needs of children or the sick or elderly to arts groups and causes to advance the community. And the most successful ones are blessed to have business executives supporting with time and dollars to help point them in successful directions.

And this is a time of the year when business people and others of means should pause to remember the cause or causes that are fortunate enough to have their attention and even affection.

But few organizations have been more successful over the years than JA in keeping focused on its cause: helping guide the understanding of the free enterprise system among young people and, recently even more vital in the view of many JA supporters, teach the importance of financial literacy.

Folleher, who moved from his Seattle leadership position to a role with the national JA organization in 1998 before retiring to Palm Springs, is being remembered by both active and retired business leaders who were closely involved with JA and who thus knew him best for the value he brought to the economic education of young people.

Folleher's strategy of creating close relationships among his board members included the Puget Sound JA chapter sending the largest delegation each year to the National Business Hall of Fame, an experience that he understood would contribute to the bonding strategy. Thus he made the trips an important part of each year's JA activities.

During his second tenure with JA in Seattle the number of students impacted by JA programs quadrupled to more than 60,000, deficits became surpluses and the annual budget grew to more than $2.4 million.

And in the manner of the best of non-profit executives, he groomed his successor well and thus David Moore, JA President for what has grown to be JA oversight for all of Washington state, says of Folleher, "he was my mentor, friend and inspiration." 

Under Moore, who spent a decade as Folleher's marketing director before succeeding him in 1998, JA programs have grown and come to reach a dramatically expanding number of students around the state each year. 
 
It was through involvement with JA as publisher of Puget Sound Business Journal to create a local Business Hall of Fame in a partnership between the newspaper and his organization that I came to be close friends with Folleher and eventually served as chair of the JA board.

Ken Kirkpatrick, retired president of U.S. Bank of Washington, knew Folleher the longest because it was Kirkpatrick, along with his future wife SaSa, who met Folleher at the airport when he arrived in Seattle in 1972 for for his first stint guiding JA's Seattle operations.

Kirkpatrick recalls that he was only 17 at the time, but was serving as JA's temporary executive director, "along with my janitor job there. He treated me like a king and he gave me my first ever Christmas gift from an employer-a very fancy shoeshine kit that I used just last week."

Woody Howse, then guiding Cable & Howse Ventures and now described as "the grandfather of Seattle's venture-capital community" was incoming board chair when Folleher arrived in 1987, returning to Seattle after serving as JA's Senior Vice President in charge of programs and marketing nationally. 

"Folleher's network through all of JA was unparalleled and as a result we got the benefit in Seattle of a world-class sponger of Best Practices," Howse said.

Lasting friendships was true for me, and this column is an unabashed good-memories reflection on a man who not only became a good friend, but who was responsible for many of my closest friendships formed over the mutual connection to JA and the work we all did together to build and promote the organization and its cause.
 
Scott Harrison, retired president of Barclay-Dean Interiors, who also served a term as JA board chair, praised Folleher for guiding board members to "embrace the vision that Gil and his team had for JA."

And John Fluke, of Fluke Venture Partners (another top executive who took his turn as JA board chair) and the son of the man described as "The Father of JA" in this region, said "I know Gil would want all of us to do our part to advance JA's mission to bring economic and personal financial literacy to all K-12 students."

Rather than merely recall Folleher after his death, friends from around the country were able to be on hand in Palm Springs last January for his 75th birthday celebration where, as Moore recalls with a smile, "we partied for three days."

Now those who were close to Folleher will gather again, despite his insisting there be no service or memorial, for a toast and sharing of memories January 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the Waterfront Marriott.
 
In what amounted to an appropriate summing up, Moore noted: "I have always said we are warming by a fire we did not build since what JA is today is a legacy for Folleher's passion and leadership."'
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Holiday teletype art: greetings from communications era past

Dear Friends: 

Sharing this re-creation of the art once delivered via wire-service teletype machines to media newsrooms around the nation during the quiet hours of Christmas Eve has become my annual way of delivering holiday greetings to those who have been kind enough to allow Flynn's Harp into their email 'bag' each week. 
   
 
 
Holiday teletype art: greetings from communications era past In the days before computers, wire service teletype machines clacked away in newspaper and broadcast newsrooms around the nation and the world, bringing the news from all points to local media outlets.
 
But in the quiet of the Christmas holiday in years past, in the offices of AP and United Press International, the teletype paper coming from the teletype printers would be graced with holiday art. 

  

For those of us who at an early stage in our careers had a turn with the lonely Christmas Eve or overnight vigil in the UPI offices  as older writers got to spend time with their families, the holiday art created and transmitted by teletype operators is one of the special memories of working for that now-dead company. 

The x's, o's, (or more frequently dollar signs and exclamation marks)  appeared a line at a time on the teletype paper until images of Christmas trees, Santa Claus, holly wreaths, etc., took shape.  

The uniqueness of the tree below is the Christmas greeting delivered in nearly 50 languages. 

Over the years I've been sending this, the art has stirred memories for those among the recipients of this weekly missive who once worked in newspaper or broadcast news rooms and recalled watching those creations emerge onto the rolls of teletype paper.

It also served as a reminder of earlier days for those in other industries who once used teletype machines for transmission of information, including one who recalled the occasional flawed keystrokes that occurred when creation of the art followed holiday parties.

 

Since each year brings new names to the list of those receiving Flynn's Harp, there are some who haven't previously seen the art. For that reason, and because fond memories are served by repetition, here is a the annual sharing of this Christmas art.

    

Happy Holidays!
 


                                                +
1                                               "X"                                       
                                              "XXX"
                                            "XXXXX"
                                          "GOD JUL"
                                       "BUON ANNO"
                                        "FELIZ NATAL"
                                      "JOYEUX   NOEL"
                                   "VESELE   VANOCE"
                                  "MELE   KALIKIMAKA"
                                "NODLAG  SONA  DHUIT"
                             "BLWYDDYN  NEWYDD  DDA"
                                """""""BOAS FESTAS"""""""
                                       "FELIZ NAVIDAD"
                                  "MERRY CHRISTMAS"
                                " KALA CHRISTOUGENA"
                                 "VROLIJK  KERSTFEEST"
                   "FROHLICHE WEIHNACHTEN"
                              "BUON  NATALE-GODT NYTAR"
                              "HUAN YING SHENG TAN CHIEH" 
                           "WESOLYCH SWIAT-SRETAN BOZIC" 
                         "MOADIM LESIMHA-LINKSMU KALEDU" 
                        "HAUSKAA JOULUA-AID SAID MOUBARK" 
              """""""'N  PRETTIG  KERSTMIS""""""" 
                              "ONNZLLISTA UUTTA VUOTTA" 
                           "Z ROZHDESTYOM  KHRYSTOVYM" 
                          "NADOLIG LLAWEN-GOTT NYTTSAR" 
                         "FELIC NADAL-GOJAN KRISTNASKON" 
                        "S  NOVYM  GODOM-FELIZ ANO NUEVO" 
                        "GLEDILEG JOL-NOELINIZ KUTLU OLSUM" 
                     "EEN GELUKKIG NIEUWJAAR-SRETAN BOSIC" 
                    "KRIHSTLINDJA GEZUAR-KALA CHRISTOUGENA" 
                     SELAMAT HARI NATAL - LAHNINGU NAJU METU" 
                    """""""SARBATORI FERICITE-BUON  ANNO""""""" 
                          "ZORIONEKO GABON-HRISTOS SE RODI" 
                      "BOLDOG KARACSONNY-VESELE  VIANOCE " 
                     "MERRY CHRISTMAS  AND  HAPPY NEW YEAR" 
                      ROOMSAID JOULU PUHI -KUNG HO SHENG TEN" 
                      FELICES PASUAS -  EIN GLUCKICHES NEUJAHR" 
                  PRIECIGUS ZIEMAN SVETKUS  SARBATORI VESLLE" 
              BONNE  ANNEBLWYDDYN  NEWYDD DDADRFELIZ  NATAL" 
                          """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" 
                                                    XXXXX 
                                                    XXXXX 
                                                    XXXXX 
                                            XXXXXXXXXXXXX


 

 

  

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Longtime elected official Lloyd Hara retires, leaving legacy of property-data innovation

Lloyd Hara, who has held more local elective offices over a longer period of time than perhaps anyone in the history of the state, departs at the end of this month from the King County Assessor's office he has occupied for the past six years, likely bringing an end to a career in elective office dating back to 1969.

Lloyd Hara 
But as he turns the keys to the office over to John Arthur Wilson, the one-time aide who defeated him in the November General Election and will be sworn in January 3, he leaves a first-in-the-nation data legacy that will benefit residents, government and non-profits well into the future.

That data file, named LocalScape, was launched last March by Hara's office. He refers to the innovation, which amounts to a property data portal, as a "dynamic m apping tool designed to unleash the power of community data and redefine civic engagement" by layering local property tax value, tax data and census information.

Hara's 76th birthday was December 8 so, appropriately, King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council proclaimed that day Lloyd Hara Day in the county.

And in a last holiday greeting to members of his staff, Hara thanked them for their role in the "nine national awards for innovation, customer service and leadership" that the office won from the national organization of assessors and other groups.

One of his innovations that he had to press for approval from the county's executive and council, was selling advertising on his department's website, which he viewed as adding a logical source of revenue, suggesting that every agency should be open to that idea.

Throughout his career, Hara was an official who genuinely enjoyed meeting his constituents, and thus established a tough standard for his successor.

He has logged more than 200 speaking engagements per year to service organization, real estate gatherings and town hall meetings, in addition to regular meetings with all 39 cities in the county and traveling to Olympia to meet with lawmakers on not only his department's issues, but also issues impacting the county.

As port commissioner, Hara chuckled at the sense that he had so many meetings out and around the county that he sometimes encountered people who didn't even know they were in the Seattle Port District.

Hara, then finishing his first term as a commissioner for the Poet of Seattle, was elected in 2009 to fill the unexpired term of King County Assessor Scott Noble, who resigned. He was subsequently elected, in 2011, to a full four-year term.

He thus undertook a role that made him, in essence, the "tax man" in the county since notices of taxes came from his office, although his office merely served to take the budget approved by the County Council and turn it into the tax per property parcel.

But throughout his years as assessor, Hara seemed always in quest of ways to lower property taxes, sometime stirring discussions with other elected officials, some of whom he sought to put out of business for taxpayer benefit.

One of his controversial suggestions sprang from his sense that regionalization that would involve consolidating functions of various elective offices may be a way that taxpayers in smaller counties may be better served, less expensively.

And he wondered aloud in one of our interviews a couple of years ago "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 the echo of such discussion Hara started that new ways of doing things at the local-government level may emerge as lawmakers and policymakers cope with new funding realities.

Hara told me that a family challenge, when his son, Todd, learned in August that he had a cancerous tumor in his kidney, put his 2015 re-election campaign in perspective. He said Todd's surgery a week before the election and his doctor's assessment that he was cancer free far outweighed the outcome of a political campaign.
Todd turned 42 on his birthday last week, three days after Lloyd's birthday. 

In fact, it was the second time that a family challenge came during a tight campaign, ironically, he says, in that they were during the two elections he lost.

The first was during his only run for statewide office, 1988, when his race for state treasurer was dimmed in importance by the death of his father.

The start of his career in elective office came for Hara, a graduate of Roosevelt High School and the University of Washington, in 1969 when he was appointed to the office of King County auditor, the youngest person to hold that office.

He was elected Seattle Treasurer in 1980 and served in that role until 1992, winning accolades from the Government Financial Officers Association, the Association of Government Accounts and the Municipal Treasurers Association of the U.S. and Canada, an organization he served as president for a term.

In addition to his elective offices, Hara founded the Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials, the Seattle International District Rotary, the North Seattle Community College Foundation and is past president of the Japanese American Citizens League, Seattle Chapter.

Hara is taking a few days vacation with his wife, Liz, and told me in an email that while he has not made any future commitments, he has "too much energy to simply retire," adding "life is good and there is life after politics."
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Spokane Fantasy Flight for orphans, homeless kids sprinkles 'magic dust' of caring on all

Hopefully everyone in need of positive thoughts in these emotion-charged times will in some way be touched by the same "Magic Dust" of caring that sprinkles over all those involved with Saturday's Spokane Fantasy Flight for 62 orphans and homeless kids and their elves to Santa's North Pole home aboard an Alaska Airlines 737-900.

Steve Paul, 'Elf Bernie' 
The magic manifests itself not only in the eyes of the youngsters, ranging in age from 4 to 10 years, selected by shelters and community programs in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, but also on the faces of the dozens of adults, ranging from TSA agents to elves to Alaska flight-crew members and volunteers.

This will be the 19th Fantasy Flight from Spokane International Airport, although it was United Airlines that created the event in 1997 and hosted the children until 2008 when a scheduling snafu left no plane available for Spokane. Alaska quickly stepped up to save the day, and bring a new specialness to the event, going aloft for a real flight.

United had taxied the planeload of kids around the airport, but employees of Alaska, which of course is more familiar with the North Pole than any airline, asked "why can't we actually take off with the kids?" So in fact they did, carrying 60 kids and their elves aloft for a 40 minute flight to Santa's home. And so it has been since then.
 
Alaska pilot Eric Hrivnak 
So Saturday afternoon the children are brought to the airport where each meets his or her "buddy elf." Then, with the help of the TSA workers, who look the other way as metal jingle bells on the kids' and elves' clothing set off alarms, they all pass through security and board the Alaska flight, which upon takeoff becomes Santa 1 with First Officer Eric Hrivnak, at the controls.
 
For the eight years since that first Alaska flight, the airline has partnered with Northwest North Pole Adventures, the 501c3 created by Steve Paul, "Elf Bernie" on flight day. But the rest of the year Paul is president and CEO of little non-profit and he spends the months preparing for the event by working with organizations, gathering sponsors and overseeing details, all on a $200,000 budget that includes in-kind, biggest of which is the Alaska flight.
 
Paul isn't a wealthy do-gooder who commits to the annual flight as his philanthropy. Rather he has a fulltime job as project manager for Spokane-based Ecova, a national utility and energy-management company
 
It is Paul who is also responsible for the details of making the day special for the kids and, as he once told me,  "I know I can't fix the situations in life that have brought these children to the place we find them. But I can give them a brain full of amazingly magical memories of a day when they took their first airplane ride, when they touched their first reindeer and had their own elf as best friend, and met Santa in his North Pole home."
 
Hrivnak and his Alaska crew are part of the magic since as the flight nears its conclusion, the passengers are told to pull the window shades down and chant the magic words that will allow them to land at the North Pole.
 
As the kids pull down their shades and do a chant, each waves a magic light wand they were given as they boarded and then Hrivnak deploys the engine thrusters when Santa and Rudolph appear on the radar screen, providing the confirmation that the "Santa 1" flight has entered North Pole airspace.
 
Then the pilot lands the plane on the other side of the Spokane airport and the kids and their elves get off, to be greeted by Santa, Mrs. Clause, extra elves and a few live reindeer.
 
A key moment of magic occurs for each child when they have their personal visit with Santa.
 
As Paul told me, "When we send out invitations to the kids, we have them tell us what they want for Christmas. We take those lists and buy each of them a toy from that list. So as each child tells Santa what he or she wants, Santa can reach into his bag and pull that present out for them. The looks on their faces as he hands it to them is priceless."
 
Longtime readers of the column will be familiar with the story since this has become my regular Christmas season offering after my friend Blythe Thimsen, editor of Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living magazine, first alerted me to this amazing community experience six years ago. She served as an elf on that year's flight and wrote of the experience for her magazine.
 
But except for coverage by Seattle's Q13 a couple of times, and again this year, including a piece they sent to CNN two years ago that gained the event national coverage, I've been struck by the general lack of media attention.
 
Although Alaska's CEO Brad Tilden wrote about the event in the Alaska Airlines magazine a couple of years ago, neither the airline nor Paul and his organization have sought attention for themselves for their involvement.

But there is a high-visibility desire on the part of Alaska crew members to participate, as evidenced by the fact that after several years as the captain of the trip, Hrivnak was beaten out last year by other pilots who wanted to guide the trip.

But he made sure he was back at the top of the list this year and thus will be the captain at the controls again this year. 
 
In fact, because this is Paul's 15th year guiding the event, which touches him each year as he experiences using "the power of Santa and Christmas to bring an over-the-top memory for kids usually consumed with worry," I thought of making this column about him.

But when I mentioned that intent to Paul, whom I talk with each year for the column, he seemed to actually bristle at the idea of my focusing on him.

"This event is NOT about me. Never was and never will be," he emailed me. "This event is about injecting a wondrous and magical spirit of Christmas into children that most likely would grow up without such a chance. 

"What our leadership team does (all year long) is to sustain an entity that will continue to deliver on our 1st promise to these children - an amazing day of unimaginable memories of happiness, love and pure joy. Nothing more." he said.
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A rural economic development strategy focused on entrepreneurs

 

If Global Entrepreneurship Week, the annual worldwide celebration of innovators and job creators, had been a competition among nations, states and regions, Washington State could have laid claim to being the hands-down winner. And that would be appropriate recognition for the man who has guided much of this state's effort to advance entrepreneurship, particularly in rural areas and particularly with young people, for 25 years.

 

 

 

 

Maury Forman, senior manager for the Washington State Department of Commerce, is proud of the fact that in this state, GEW 2015 was actually Global Entrepreneurship Month and extended to every corner of the state with activities in all 39 counties. Four years ago, when Forman plugged the state into GEW activities, three counties participated.Forman says "we are changing the way communities look at economic development." That's an outgrowth of his effort, over much of his quarter century overseeing key economic-development sectors, to develop a culture of entrepreneurism in rural areas.

Global Entrepreneurship week was founded in 2008 by the Kauffman Foundation, the Kansas City-based 501c3 that is the nation's pre-eminent entrepreneur-focused organization, to create an annual celebration of innovators and job creators who launch the start-ups that drive economic growth.

 

Forman, who joined what was then the Department of Trade and Economic Development in 1991 in a career transition from healthcare at the age of 40, says "No other state can claim that every part of the state had at least one event that celebrated entrepreneurship."

 

 

"One of the exciting aspects of this year's celebration of entrepreneurship was the number of high school programs being held throughout the state," Forman said. "In many cases, college isn't the natural next step it was once for high school students so these programs expose them to the idea of starting their own business once they graduate. Or if they do go on to college, they can focus their education on skills that will allow them to start a business in the years to come."

 

 

Forman says he has kept his primary focus on rural economies because "they need the assistance much more than urban communities," as well as because he has become convinced that the strategies for growth of many rural areas that has been focused on recruiting companies from out of state is outdated.

 

 

"That has to change if rural communities are to survive," Forman said. "Communities have to be shingle ready and not just shovel ready."  

 

 

In a recent article in Governing, a national magazine covering state and local government news, Forman wrote about Washington's three-year-old program called Startup Washington that focuses on building local economies "organically" by serving the needs of local startups and entrepreneurs.  

 

 

Forman is likely among the national leaders in the conviction that programs to enhance local economic development "must nurture the belief that young people who grow up in rural communities can be guided to start businesses in their own community rather than moving to urban centers."

 

 

"Just as young people are looking at new ways to enter the work force other than working for someone else, so too are communities looking for ways other than recruitment of businesses from elsewhere to grow their economies," Forman said.

 

 

One of the ways he is seeking to do that "is by matching those students that are serious about being entrepreneurs with mentors, especially in rural communities."

 

 

Indeed matching students who hope to be entrepreneurs with mentors is becoming the model for successful communities, particularly rural ones, to pursue.

 

 

Some communities have long been employing that model, as chronicled in the oft-quoted book written by Jack Schultz, founder and CEO of Agracel, a firm based in Effingham, IL, that specializes in industrial development in small towns.

 

 

It was in pondering why some small towns succeed where others fail that Schultz set out on the backroads to rural America to find out as he became the nation's guru of rural economic development and wrote of his travels in Boomtown USA: the 7 ½ keys to Big Success in Small Towns.

 

 

I emailed Schultz about entrepreneurism's role in small town success and a possibly emerging role for mentor programs.

 

 

"Embracing entrepreneurism in communities has been a key factor that differentiated great communities from also-rans," he emailed back. "Increasingly, we are seeing those great communities taking it a step up by tying their local entrepreneurs up with their young people, educating them on both entrepreneurship and also the great things happening in the private sector of their towns."

 

 

Schultz' successes in believing in small-town entrepreneurs and small-business lending is partly responsible for the fact the Effingham-based bank he helped found and now chairs the board, has grown eight fold to $2.9 billion in assets and gone public.

 

 

"At Midland States Bank, we have very much focused on small business lending and it has been a major factor in our growth over the last several years," Schultz said.

 

 

In an unusual and innovative commitment to the dozens of communities it serves, the bank has funded a not-for-profit institute to expand an entrepreneurship class that was started in Effingham eight years ago and has now expanded to 27 other towns.

 

 

Forman seemed intrigued by the details Schultz provided:  The class meets each day during the school year from 7:30 to 9 am; meets in local businesses; is totally funded by local businesses with a maximum contribution of $1,000 per business or individual.  Each class has a business and each student must also start a business.  

 

 

Meanwhile, Forman approaches his 25th anniversary with the department on January 1 having collected numerous regional and national awards for his work and successes. Those include last year winning the international Economic Development Leadership Award and recognitionby the Teens in Public Service Foundation with the Unsung Hero Award for his work with at risk kids.   

 

 

He has authored 14 books related to economic development, and has also designed and developed creative "game show' learning tools, including Economic Development Jeopardy, Economic Development Feud and two board games for the profession.

 

 

Forman credits the directors who have guided the department over his time there for allowing him "to be intrapreneurial," meaning behaving like an entrepreneur while working in a large organization, noting "not many government agencies allow the freedom to take risks in an effort to solve a given problem."

 

 

 

 

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Human drama at men' World Squash event as compelling as the on-court competition

The final round of the men's World Squash Championship Sunday offered more than enough competitive drama as Frenchman Gregory Gaultier's long frustration at this event ended with a championship trophy. But the human drama and emotion that involved both Gaultier and his finals opponent, Egyptian Omar Mosaad, was equally compelling.

 
The visible human drama was in the minute of silence from the audience, in recognition of the recent Paris terrorist attack and its grim toll, that greeted Gaultier at the outset of the tournament a week ago.There was poignant drama in Gaultier's victory itself since the victory in the finals followed four consecutive trips to the finals with Gaultier being beaten on of all of those occasions.

The human drama that was not visible to the audience and known to only a few was the tragedy that had befallen the Egyptian, a tall and muscular competitor whose build and chiseled features could allow him to be cast as a warrior defending a Pharoh.

Mosaad's mother and sister were killed in a car accident last summer. His young nephew and niece survived and Mossad has taken responsibility for the children.
Mosaad has indicated how difficult it was to get back on course in preparation for the world championships while dealing with the emotional and actual details of the tragedy.

Mosaad's road to the final match with Gaultier was storied in its own way since he was down the list of Egyptian squash competitors. Egypt is one of the capital's of squash in the world, along with India, France and England. Mosaad defeated one of the two acknowledged Egyptian squash kingpins on his way to the match with Gaultier.

The victory was over defending champion Ramy Ashour, the Egyptian he had never beaten. But the victory came as a result of a leg injury Ashour suffered in the midst of the match. Tears flowed from both men as Mosaad's victory came about.

Shabana Kahn, the Seattle resident and former national women's squash champion who put on this first ever men's world squash championship in the United States, said "for these two players to get into the finals, everything had to be perfectly in place. They were meant to be there. It was very magical."

India-born Shabana and her 28-year-old brother,Murad, who assisted her in planning and overseeing the week-long event, was pleased with the response of the squash players who showed up from around the world. Shabana and her brother have gotten accolades from the players for the quality of the work they did in helping address issues the players encountered.

Now, she says, it's a matter of settling up the outstanding bill with Meydenbauer Center, where the event was held, and hope that she will find some help in not losing a lot of money from an event that she put on in honor of her squash-legend father.
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Remembering Vietnam's 'defining battle' 50 years ago part of this Veterans Day

As Americans mark the day that honors veterans, those who fought in what history suggests was the defining battle of the Vietnam War are preparing to share memories of that Ia Drang Valley battle where U.S. forces and North Vietnamese regulars clashed for the first time 50 years ago Saturday.
It was the service and sacrifice of those who fought in this generation's wars in the Middle East that were mostly on the minds of those using this as a day to remember. Afterall, the Vietnam War had been over for almost a decade before the oldest millennials were even born. So for most, it's the stuff of history books.
 
 
But Ia Drang is the focus of this column, in part because my friend Joe Galloway has been, for the past nearly two years, a key player in the effort to say thank you, 40 years on, to the Vietnam veterans who got only disdain when they first returned home. And because of his visit to Seattle earlier this year as part of his role of interviewing Vietnam veterans, this area was a key participant in the national, Congressionally mandated, focus on Vietnam.
 
 
An additional and important Seattle-area tie to Ia Drang is that Bruce Crandall, a Kitsap County resident, was a hero of the battle as one of two helicopter pilots who flew nearly two dozen times into the heat of the battle to ferry in supplies and take out the wounded. Both Crandall and his now-deceased fellow copter pilot Ed "Too Tall" Freeman were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism and were heroes of both Galloway's book and the movie made from it.
I've written previously about Galloway, a one-time colleague at United Press International, and his war correspondent role for UPI that led to his book, We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, and the movie made from it, We Were Soldiers, that brought the Battle of Ia Drang to an historical high point. And having turned in his camera for a weapon as the battle swirled around him, he was awarded the Silver Star for his battlefield rescue under fire of a wounded soldier.
Both Galloway and I have special memories of UPI, the uniquely beloved wire service where most of us would have worked for free (and during union contract negotiations, it was frequently suggested to the company that we almost did). Add to that the mutual friends who shared those memories, including Tracy Wood now a writer in Orange County, one of a cadre of talented female correspondents UPI was forward thinking enough to send to the Vietnam war zone, and Bob Page, the boss of all of us as UPI's second in command, who now owns publications in San Diego.
With the help of Q13 Fox television and its general manager, Pam Pearson, Galloway was able to conduct more than a dozen interviews with Vietnam Veterans, including Crandall, during his week here. And I got to interview him twice, at Seattle Rotary and the Columbia Tower Club, during that week and this column is an occasion for an exclamation mark on Galloway's role here with the Pentagon's effort to preserve the recollections of those Vietnam Veterans.

As Galloway has written: "What happened there, in the Ia Drang Valley, 17 miles from the nearest red-dirt road at Plei Me and 37 miles from the provincial capital of Pleiku, sounded alarm bells in the Johnson White House and the Pentagon as they tallied the American losses. It was a stunning butcher's bill of 234 men killed and more than 250 wounded in just four days and nights, November 14-17, in two adjacent clearings dubbed Landing Zones X-ray and Albany. Another 71 Americans had been killed in earlier, smaller skirmishes that led up to the Ia Drang battles."

"The North Vietnamese regulars, young men who had been drafted into the military much as the young American men had been, had paid a much higher price to test the newcomers to an old fight: an estimated 3,561 of them had been killed, and thousands more wounded, in the Ia Drang campaign," Galloway recalled.

Galloway, and historians after him, described the battle of the Ia Drang Valley as defining, even though the war dragged on for another eight years before the end of U.S. involvement, and 10 years until the actual fall of Saigon.

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

Although President Johnson, having listened to McNamara's sense that we couldn't win in Viet Nam, no matter how many men we sent there, huddled with his key Advisors and they determined: "send the soldiers anyway."

In fact the current issue of Stars and Stripes devotes a special section dedicated to "Vietnam at 50," and headlined "Ia Drang Valley: Where the U.S. truly went to war."

So I exchanged Veterans Day emails with Galloway on the forthcoming 50th gathering.
"On Friday I mark my 74th birthday; at the time back then I never figured I would live to see my 25th birthday," he said. "On Saturday I gather with my Ia Drang brothers at an anniversary dinner hosted by the 1st Cavalry Division Association."
"The memories always begin flooding in around early November each year, but this year, the 50th anniversary of the battles is even more intense," he wrote.
"I have received stories and emails sent to me by Trudie Olson, widow of PFC Jimmy Nakayama, whom I carried out of the napalm fire at Landing Zone X-Ray, and from Camille Geoghegan Olson, daughter of Lt. Jack Geoghegan who was killed in action when he got out of his foxhole and ran to rescue one of his troopers, PFC Willie Godbolt. Geoghegan and Godbolt's names are side by side on Panel 3-East at the VN Veterans Memorial in DC. Together in death as they were in life."
"So many memories from a long-ago war," Galloway mused. A phrase likely echoed in some way by veterans of all the wars on this day to honor their contributions.
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BoxFlex founder Wheeler planning app 'Time Capsule' for cancer patients

Sandy Wheeler's 40 years as an entrepreneur focused on health and wellness businesses has brought him the thrill of victory, building fitness giant Nautilus, and the agony of defeat with the loss of a promising cancer-treatment company to a hurricane. Add to that the frustration of finding a bureaucratic roadblock preventing large-scale use of a device to treat peripheral neuropathy.
 
 
Now Wheeler, 68, is about to unveil what he is confident will be an important addition to the success list. It's an initiative to build a non-profit enterprise around an app, called "Life's Journey of Hope," that will provide a LinkedIn-like communication "Time Capsule" for those who have cancer.
Wheeler explained his sense that while there are medical efforts going on to impact cancer itself and organizations seeking to help with logistics for cancer patients and their families, what's missing is "a tool to help patients share their thoughts and feelings with loved ones and those close to them."
Wheeler says the app is designed to "provide encouragement and hope to the patients and those closest to them throughout their struggle with the disease and to save the documentation of the journey, in voice, pictures and thoughts, for future generations."

While Wheeler's entrepreneurial efforts have involved a range of businesses, he likes to say that the one thing they have all had in common is the potential to improve lives.
And the Vietnam veteran's creation of the cancer-related app, and a 501c3 called Life's Journey of Hope.org.to get it into the market, may prove to be a dramatic example of that.
"The intent of creating this as a non-profit is that people won't have to pay a dime for it but will merely need a letter from their doctors certifying that they have cancer," explained Wheeler, who shared that his father in law had died of pancreatic cancer and that his sister has aggressive breast cancer.
"These Time Capsules will allow the chronicling of the journey with words, pictures and voice, and each family member will have access to create his or her own Time Capsule to capture and share their feelings with the cancer patient throughout the journey," Wheeler added. 
"This app will be able to capture text, video, photos with context, music, snapshots and other items with various privacy settings managed by the owner."
 
"The patient will be encouraged to immediately create videos or voice communication for their spouse, their children, grandchildren and anyone else they desire to share with," Wheeler added.
"This is a highly vetted and private app and the patient and the respective family members select those they are closest to for participation in this challenging journey through the cancer ordeal," he explained.
Wheeler's goal is the 501c3 will be funded through tax-deductible donations and be headquartered in Wenatchee, where Wheeler grew up and spent most of his adult life, when he wasn't off starting businesses, and where he and his wife raised their two sons.
The app won't be Wheeler's first involvement with a business designed to address cancer issues.
The first time had to do with a company he founded more than 15 years ago that was producing a trial treatment for breast cancer in which initial samples were administered to Stage 4 patients to extend their lives with what he describes now as "remarkable results."

"The technology had so much promise that it seemed we were right on target," he says, still evidencing the impact the tragic natural disaster that wiped out the company had on him.

It was 2001 and the samples, all stored on the first floor of the MD Anderson Cancer center in Houston, were destroyed when Tropical Storm Allison swept over Texas the Gulf region, hit Houston and flooded the main floor of the cancer research facility.

"I can't even describe the despair since it wasn't something that could just be started over, as it involved years of collecting and then growing the natural protein from healthy breasts," Wheeler said. "It was devastating,"

Despite his many successes, Wheeler notes that one of the most important lessons he has learned is how to deal with failures.

"When you fail, you can sulk or you can pick your chin up and get going."

And that's what he is doing coming back from what he views as a bureaucratic excess in the form of an unexplained pushback from Medicare on reimbursement for his device that he describes as "a quantum leap forward in the field of neuro-muscular stimulation."

He's referring to device that delivers electrical signal therapy to treat peripheral neuropathy. It was approved by the FDA almost 20 years ago and marketed by his Wenatchee-based VCare Health Systems to treat an array of lreg, back and joint pains.

But when it became clear that it successfully addressed peripheral neuropathy, he and other investors envisioned a series of clinics around the country. Then came the Medicare decision that would have required an individual therapist working with each patient, the costs could no longer pencil out. 

But the Medicare debacle, when he learned that there is no appeal from its decisions and that even Congress has indicated it can't address the problems, deserves its own future column.

But thanks to three men in Arizona whose use of the electrical stimulation device made them believers and who have the resources to partner with him, they are now seeking to determine if the device can be rolled out with enough cash users (those who can afford a price reduced to the minimum possible) to be a viable business.

Wheeler is best known for guiding the success of BowFlex from its first product in 1986 6o become the leading company in the field of home fitness cardio and strength products.

BowFlex, as it grew and went public on the Toronto exchange, purchased Nautilus, Stairmaster and Schwinn Fitness, and changed the corporate name to the Nautilus Group Inc.. Now located in Vancouver, the company produced sales in excess of $500 million per year.

He'd be pleased to become equally well known as the creator of the cancer-assist app.
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Success of Men's Squash world event facing challenge of dollar support

When Shabana Khan won the rights to put on the 2015 Men's World Squash Championship in Bellevue in November, she hoped it would provide the community an opportunity to promote its role as host of a world-championship sports events, foster a sense of community involvement and support empowering a woman entrepreneur.

But Khan, an athletic 47 year old who is part of what's been described as Seattle's First Family of Professional Squash and was once ranked number one among the nation's women squash players, hasn't yet been able to muster the local financial support necessary to ensure the success of the event 
 
 
.

At this point, Bellevue City Councilman Conrad Lee has become her advocate in the quest to have the City of Bellevue participate, something that would be a given in other communities that had the opportunity to grab the brass ring of a sports-event world championship. 
Lee, who as the only Chinese local elected official in the state may be more attuned than most elected officials to the importance of understanding the attitudes and interests of those foreign residents, is convinced after meeting with Shabana Khan that the city must support the event.

Kahn had ambitious goals in outbidding other cities to be able to put on the first men's squash world championship event ever held in this country, which takes place November 13-22 at Meydenbauer Center and has attracted 112 of the world's top squash players.

She was emboldened to go after the most prestigious event in the squash world and bring it to Bellevue after she had successfully partnered with her father, Yusuf, who was responsible for turning the Seattle area into a center for squash, to put on the Women's World Championship in 1999.

"After hosting the Women's World Championships, I felt very confident in being able to bring the world's major squash event to this area," she said.

"Additionally as a former player I wanted to take the sport to a new level and treat these amazing athletes how they truly should be treated," she said. "I had set out to create a new standard for the sport and expectation of the most prestigious event on the Professional tour."

Most important, she wanted to thank her ailing father for his role in building the Seattle area into the center of squash in the Western U.S., after the 10-time India squash champion brought his family to Seattle in 1968.

The senior Khan started his own racquet club but soon merged it into the Seattle Athletic Club, which he then helped build into one of the most successful squash clubs in the country. In addition, four of his eight children have been professional squash players, including Shabana who in 2001 beat her younger sister, Latasha, the reigning national champion, to claim the title "best in the family," which is the case of the Khans, meant best in the country.

Lack of a commitment for a major sponsor for the 2015 men's event and the reluctance of some seemingly logical major local companies to step up with financial support for the men's championships have left Khan facing the prospect of a financial shortfall of perhaps $150,000. Her original budget was $1.1 million but she has already pared that to about $800,000.

A negative image for Bellevue corporate and community support may be unfair, as Bellevue Chamber of Commerce President Betty Capistany suggests.   

Putting some perspective on the lack of major financial support, Capistani made the point that "a new event that it not on people's radar needs significant lead time to get in the event budgets of major corporations."
"And the financial involvement of major corporations is much smaller than before 2008," she added.
Khan says advance ticket sales have accounted for $130,000 of the revenue and hopes that the ticket sales can be boosted with sufficient social media focus. 
The irony of the lack of sufficient support was framed in a Seattle Times article early this summer. "The world championships will be a coming-out party for what will be a $12.5 million renovation of Bellevue's convention center as well as a ramped-up effort by the city and its tourism marketing organization, Visit Bellevue Washington, to showcase the city and attract leisure and convention visitors".

Her largest financial supporter at this point is Pacific Marketing International (PMI), an early pioneer with contract manufacturing in China and Southeast Asia that has become a product development and manufacturing organization with offices in eight countries. Rob Harris, PMI CEO, has committed $80,000 to the event and, as an avid quash player, is a longtime fan of the Khan family.

"I didn't hesitate to jump in and I have no idea why she isn't getting the support she needs," Harris said. "My word! This is a huge opportunity. The world championships of a sport played all over the world."
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New University of Washington and Nevada Las Vegas presidents face very different challenges

Len Jessup, who honed his higher-education administrative leadership skills at Washington State University, was ready when the right opportunity for a university presidency came knocking a year ago for University of Nevada, Las Vegas. For new University of Washington President Ana Marie Cauce, the knock came after 29 years of preparation at the same university.

Len Jessup 
Ana Mari Cauce 




  

 
 
 
    I returned from a personal visit with Jessup in Las Vegas, where he assumed the presidency of UNLV on January 5 of this year, to learn that Cauce, 59, who had since February been interim president of UW, where she arrived in 1986 as a faculty member and rose to become provost then executive vice president, had been named president. 

Thus Jessup and Cauce wind up sharing the focus of this column to highlight the very different challenges faced by the West's two newest major-university presidents, one just settling in and the other just named. 

Jessup's challenge is to grow the impact and image of a university whose major claim to fame when he arrived was that it was the nation's second most diverse university, although that it would soon add a medical school, no longer leaving Las Vegas as the largest population center in the country without one. Cauce's challenge is to ensure that the global high rankings coming UW's way in an array of academic areas continue to grow and expand. 
Jessup, on whose national advisory board I served when he was dean of the WSU College of Business before he stepped up to be vice president of development and then president of the WSU Foundation prior to moving to the University of Arizona to be dean of the Eller College of Management, was chosen a year ago to guide UNLV.

We sat down last week on the UNLV campus to visit about the pace he's been maintaining since then, moving forward with the planned launch of UNLV's new medical school and overseeing planning for the last presidential debate a year from now at his university, enjoying the fact he was able to engineer that coup in his first months on the job.

Intriguingly, Jessup and Cauce share similar humble backgrounds. She is originally from Havana, which her family fled to come to the U.S. in 1959 after the revolution. Her parents had to start over from working in Cuba's government to sweeping floors and making shoes in this country.

Jessup was born and raised in San Francisco with both parents of Italian descent. His father was a fireman. He was the first member of his family to graduate from college. He says he has "devoted my life to service in higher ed because of the opportunities it has given me and also to pay back my ancestors for the sacrifices they made in coming to America to make a better life possible."

Jessup's selection was the result of a national search by the board of UNLV. So was Cauce's selection, except that the search committee decided, in part because of the support she had generated on the board of regents and the campus, that it didn't need to follow prior presidential searches that inevitably tapped someone afar.

Cauce takes the reins at a university that is one of the oldest in the West and academically at the top of its game, ranked this month by U.S. News & World Report as now number 11 (third among public universities) in the Global University Rankings, while Reuters last month named UW the most innovative public university in the world.

UNLV, only four years old when UW celebrated its Centennial in 1961, tapped Jessup, who is 54 but looks more like he's 34, to bring growth in quality and visibility to the campus located less than two miles from the Las Vegas Strip.

"The regents understood that UNLV needed to evolve and grow into being a top tier research university so that it could be a driver of the Valley's, and thus the State of Nevada's, growth and evolution," Jessup said.

He has fervently sought ways to bring the public spotlight onto UNLV and he has already achieved that in a couple of ways.

The first was a news conference, an hour prior to our coffee visit at the campus Starbucks, at which details of a partnership with Tesla Motors were unveiled. The pact will allow for UNLV to help Tesla develop and implement battery-manufacturing technologies for the Gigafactory near Reno where the car company hopes to produce a mass-market electric car.

"The neat thing about the Tesla partnership is that it opens the door for further work with them, but also with other innovative companies," said Jessup.

"Just in the past few months we've launched several other powerful partnerships, including an $11 million grant from the National Institutes of Health together with the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas to tackle Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases," Jessup added. The grant will fund a Center for Biomedical Research, the first ever such grant in Southern Nevada.

But perhaps most flashy, and pretty much Jessup's own coup, was landing the final presidential debate at the end of next October, days before the 2016 general election.

I asked Jessup to explain how that came about and he shared that he was approved some months ago by the Commission on Presidential Debates with an inquiry that had also gone to other universities, seeking interest.

Jessup was advised that the entry fee to land the debate was $2 million in cash directly to the debates commission upon selection of the university where the final debate would be held. So he quickly huddled with the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and other business leaders to put together a partnership that involved the LVCVA board approving sending the $2 million and agreeing to help UNLV with the estimated additional $2 million in out-of-pocket costs to prepare Las Vegas to hold the event.

Thus next October, the nation will be looking in on UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center, and likely the rest of the campus and the lights of Vegas when the two candidates for president appear in the final debate.

The business community of The Entertainment Capital of the World is already giving Jessup high marks for his ability to market his university. To come will be the challenges of advancing it academically among research universities.
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This Book of Mormon has two real-life heroes who impacted me, and society

You might call this column my personal version of the Book of Mormon, a tale with two heroes, like the musical satire of that name making the rounds of theaters across the country. But this is the story of two real-life heroes whose separate impacts on society, driven in large part by their Mormon faith, should make them each the subject for their own book or movie.

Jon Huntsman Sr. and Karen 
And both have left an impact on me. One, Gary Neeleman, is a lifelong friend who received unique recognition last week in his beloved Brazil for his life of focus on that nation and its citizens.

The other, Jon Huntsman Sr., whom I have never met but who has touched me for more than a decade, has again this year drawn me to the gathering of senior athletes that was his vision 
29 years ago when he began 
Gary and Rose Neeleman 
the World Senior Games as the globe's most impressive annual gathering of senior athletes. It will be my third trip to St. George, UT, to compete in the 100 meters.

I have previously written about both Neeleman and Huntsman, both longtime residents of Salt Lake City, who know each other, with Neeleman actually a close friend of Huntsman's son, Jon, who was Utah governor and for a brief time a GOP presidental hopeful.

So this column is somewhat a revisting of people long-time readers have met before. But I never apologize for repeat sharing of special people who have done special things.

Both men made major contributions to society, Neeleman to inter-American relations and Huntsman to medical science. 

It was as a result of his experience covering the 1963 Pan American Games and watching U.S. athletes play the role of "ugly Americans" in their treatment of Latin American teams they defeated, that he promised himself to someday do something about that. So when UPI sent him back home, he worked with Utah's coaches to create a college all-stars post-season tour of Latin America.
That tour, with Neeleman acting as scheduler, accommodations arranger and bag-boy for the basketball stars who relished the chance to participate, became an NCAA post-season fixture and Neeleman became a regular luncheon speaker at the NCAA tournament for years.

And for Huntsman, it was after his surgery for prostate cancer almost 20 years ago that prompted him to establish a world-class cancer research and treatment center, a dream realized with the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Hospital in Salt Lake City.

The Huntsman family continues to serve as principal benefactors and fundraisers for the Huntsman Cancer Institute with what he describes as "the ultimate goal" of eradicating the most challenging forms of cancer.
So now to their roles in this column. First regarding Neeleman, who was honored last week at the main hall of the City of Sao Paulo as the fourth recipient of the Sao Paulo Citizen award, following the Pope, the Dalai Lahma and the founder of the Mormon Church in Brazil as the only other recipients of the honor. 
Neeleman's wife, Rose, and sons, David and Mark and a total of 14 family members including wives, grandkids and great grandkids were among those on hand for the ceremony. Neeleman recalled stories of his 61-year relationship with Brazil, more like a love affair with a nation and its people, beginning in 1954 when he arrived as a 20-year-old Mormon missionary.

It resumed in the early '60s when he brought his then new bride, Rose, with him as he arrived to be Brazil's manager for United Press International and has continued since then, including his three books that chronicle previously little-known aspects of the relations between what he refers to as "the two giants of the western hemisphere."

Three of his seven children were born in Brazil, including David, founder of Jet Blue now the founder and CEO of Azul, Brazil's second largest and fastest growing airline. Neeleman told the assembly that all of his children, 35 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren "were either born here, or are Brazilians at heart and are all proud to have Brazilian passports."

Gary and Rose travel to Brazil about three times a year and when they're not traveling on personal or client business, or traveling to the Brazilian back country as part of their research for his books, he's doing Brazil's business as honorary counsel in Salt Lake City.
My friendship with Neeleman, 81, extends back more than 40 years, beginning with our more than a decade as executives at UPI. And my children still recall his dramatic reading of "Horton the Elephant" one evening years ago as they were tucking into bed.
Now to Huntsman, 78, about whom I will be having good thoughts next week and would love to meet, when he and Karen will be on hand for the opening of the two-week gathering where nearly 10,000 seniors will compete in everything from track and field to badminton, pickleball, lawn bowling, volleyball, square dancing and even bridge. Some of the participants are in their 90s.

Huntsman's vision back in 1987 was that an event called the World Senior Games, even if held in a then-remote corner of Southwest Utah, would eventually draw thousands of what some might dismiss as "the elderly" who come for the chance for recreation and to compete with their peers.

While the Huntsmans' close ties to the games remain, he turned over the CEO role a few years ago to Kyle Case, whose career involvement with the Senior Games extends back to when he served as an intern while a student at Southern Utah University.

I've been drawn to the games because of the "world" name since I first heard of them in 2003 and made up my mind to compete in the 100 and 200 meters in my age group once I learned that they weren't really games that required world-class talent. That means some competitors really were world class while others like me, who weren't, could still compete, and that's always been the magic draw.

In that 2003 event, as a 63 year old competing in the 60-64 age group, I managed to finish sixth in both the 100 and 200 out of fields of 24 in each event. But the reality was that those at the front of the pack in both events were, in fact, world class and thus it was satisfying just to be in the same race in which I could see them in the distance.

I returned in 2011 to prove to myself I could come back from the surgery for colon cancer that I underwent in late May that year.
The goal wasn't merely to prove that a 71-year-old guy can come back from major surgery and resume normal activity, even if the "normal" activity seems like a stretch to the sedentary of any age. It was also to acknowledge successful recovery from cancer while various friends are battling the Big-C, or have lost their battles.
Performing well at those 2011 anniversary games had become a single-minded focus that August and September following a required two-month recovery period without strenuous exercise. And so I proudly displayed, on my return, the Bronze medal I won for finishing third in my race.
So having turned 75, the appeal to return to St. George again to see how I can fare in the 75-79 group won out.

I closed a column three years ago on that 2011 experience thusly: Life is a race to be appreciated for the joy of participation, and whether world class, or a bit slower, making in to the finish line while leaving behind cancer, or any other physical or mental obstacle, is really the sweetest race to win.
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O'Toole turnaround of Seattle police community interaction drawing attention

 

As the president of China departs Thursday morning after a visit that represented a high-visibility recognition for the Seattle area's growing role on the global economic stage, U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch arrives for a less visible visit to discuss Seattle's progress on police reforms that are drawing attention on the law enforcement stage.

Kathleen O'Toole 
In fact, part of the discussion will be about Seattle's progress in implementing reforms mandated by the Justice Department and may touch on Seattle's growing role as a trend-setter, under Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole, in implementing new procedures for police-community relations.

Lynch's visit is part of a multi-city community policing tour and, while she is here, she will get a close-up look at how Seattle's police chief has done in leading a turnaround of the department where she took the reins 18 months ago in the face of a Justice Department-ordered revamping of policing procedures.

O'Toole was sworn in as Chief of the Seattle Police Department on June 23rd, 2014, selected after a highly visible national search for the person who could turn around a challenged department in which the Seattle community had largely lost trust.

Coincidental with this week's visit by Lynch, along with Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Atty. Gen. for Civil Rights and COPS Director Ronald L. Davis, was a breakfast-audience conversations last Friday at the Columbia Tower Club.

O'Toole, a career police officer as well as a lawyer, had earned an international reputation for her leadership and ability to shape reform strategy, including a six-year term as chief inspector of the Irish oversight body responsible for bringing reforms to the 17,000 member Irish national police service.

At the Tower Club interview, she remarked that when she first got to Ireland, she was asked if among other changes she would introduce the use of weapons, since police officers in Ireland, England and the United Kingdom don't carry weapons. She said she had no intention of doing that.

In fact, O'Toole told the breakfast audience, "many people get their impressions of policing from the gun fights and car chases they see on television.  They think it's all about enforcement.  In reality, most police work involves service."

"The department is actually doing more service-oriented business than law enforcement," she said, and noted as an example that the department "is on track to assist 10,000 people a year in crisis," meaning people on the street in activity that prompts a call to police.

What she sees as the positive impact about the real nature of police work that comes about from getting a close inside look is pointed up by a recent experience of a group of inner-city young people the department hired for summer jobs as part of Mayor Ed Murray's effort to increase city hiring of young people.

O'Toole chuckled that when the youngsters first learned they were being offered jobs with the police department, there was general reluctance.

She explained that her department hired 20 inner-city youth, "mostly young people of color" and after the summer employment ended, she said she met with them.

"They spoke very fondly of their experience and noted that police work was very different than they expected," she said. "They established friendships with many officers, and some are now considering careers with the SPD - something they never imagined doing prior to this experience." 

O'Toole, who before her stint in Ireland served in key police management roles in Massachusetts and Boston, first in 1994 as Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety and 10 years later as Boston Police Commissioner, says the changing nature of police work is going to require recruitment changes.

She specifically referred to targeting more minorities and immigrants for policing careers.

She thinks some of the changes are occurring as a result of the events in Ferguson, MO, and elsewhere that "have created a ripple effect around the country."

Ferguson and similar events generated vigorous debate about the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans, and the concept of use of force in policing.

"When I assumed this role in June of 2014, I knew it would be a challenging job, but never anticipated the series of national events that have deeply affected relations between police and community, incidents that have caused many police agencies to contemplate reform," O'Toole said.

"Fortunately, the Seattle Police Department was moving full speed ahead with reform prior to these developments," she added. " We still have work to do, but I'm pleased we can share our early experience with others, since in recent months, many police departments have visited us to learn about our new policies and training related to important issues, including Use of Force, Crisis Intervention and de-escalation."

She listed police departments in New York, Baltimore, Dallas, Milwaukee and, Portland among the visitor and said more departments are scheduled to visit in the coming months.

It would be Pollyannaish to think that all members of a police force singled out by the Justice Department for court-ordered turnaround are all in lockstep with the changes O'Toole is guiding. Some refer in conversation about the changes, particularly the rules on the use of force, to "rules of engagement being written by a Justice Department attorney."

  On a current local topic, O'Toole was asked whether any challenges have emerged for police since the legalization of marijuana in this state.

"It's fairly early for any trends to have emerged," she replied. "Except for the competing drug dealers who set up business across the street from the legal shops and sell it for less illegally."
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Sanjay Kumar waging campaign to expand acceptance of reusable water

Sanjay Kumar, who learned growing up in Mumbai how a lack of sufficient access to clean water can impact lives, has become an evangelical messenger about the importance of developing alternative sources of water in anticipation of the water-availability crisis that the former tech executive sees looming ahead.

Sanjay Kumar 
And Kumar, 49, who quietly made a mark as one of the Seattle area's most successful tech entrepreneurs, is likely to bring an increasingly visible presence to his current undertaking of spreading the message about the importance that recycled water will have in helping address future water shortages.

Kumar, who had key roles at Microsoft, and Teledesic before founding his own telecom services company after coming to the U.S. from his native India in 1983, points to an agreement this month between Kirkland and King County's Wastewater Treatment Division as a model that cities everywhere will eventually need to pursue.

The first-of-its-kind agreement between a city and the county will bring a drought-proof source of water to the Eastside city in the form of high-quality recycled water from the county's Brightwater Treatment Plant.

But Kumar, who pressed for the landmark arrangement, laments that "no other city is contemplating anything like this, largely due to King County being in no hurry and realizing it is a heavy lift so they want to wait and see with Kirkland. "

Kumar makes no apology for being the doomsayer about the water crisis he sees awaiting not just the water-starved regions of the west, but areas like the seemingly water-plentiful Northwest as well. The current efforts in the Puget Sound area to curtail water use suggest that Kumar is right on.

His advocacy, research and consulting organization, reuseH20, promotes the use of recycled/reclaimed water (which is known as "purple pipe" because it is delivered through a system of purple pipes) and has a goal of helping municipalities, industry, developers and communities "de-risk" their access to water.

"We help organizations understand the current and future cost of water, explore the available options to recycle water on site or access reclaimed water from a municipal or 3rd party source and ensure that each solution has long term financial and sustainability benefits," is the way he explains it.

He points to the water crisis playing out in California as "really a microcosm of all the problems." That state's reliance on its two water sources of mountains snow melt and groundwater, with both depleting, "is not sustainable for more than a couple of decades."

In fact, he makes the attention-grabbing comment that "the time will come when it will be less expensive to relocate a California resident to somewhere else in the country than to pay for them to continue getting water."
Kumar suggests: "It will be a different country when the water situation reaches the point where people are told 'no you can't move to that part of the country. Pick somewhere else.'"

His Twitter and LinkedIn sites carry regular messages on the topic, like "Reuse is a necessary and scalable concept including rainwater harvesting, stormwater capture and municipal reclamation." And he offers updates on developments, like reporting that a residential recycling water fill station had been opened in Sonoma by the area's sanitation district for residents to use to water their lawns, gardens and landscape areas.

A key part of Kumar's campaign is to paint municipal utilities as not just a key part of the problem, but as committed to a course contrary to what's best for the desired long-term outcome.

He makes the point, for which general awareness has not yet emerged, that the revenue model of utilities in Seattle and elsewhere is based on their ability to sell water and thus there is a built-in reluctance to embrace any program focused on reusable water, which as a less-expensive alternative would negatively impact the revenue model.

"Reclaimed water is the only workable answer since, if done with the right technology, it produces both clean water and energy," Kumar says.

Kumar came to the U.S. in 1983 at the age of 17 to study computer engineering at Carnegie Melon University and joined Microsoft in 1991 after getting his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. At Microsoft he worked first in the multimedia group helping develop video for Windows, then in the Advanced Technology group alongside Intellectual Ventures co-founder Nathan Myhrvold.

Then Kumar founded and grew VCustomer into one of the nation's fastest-growing private companies before three years ago selling the telecom outsourcing company, which had grown to more than 4,000 employees with call centers in India and three other countries.

Kumar first learned of the potential for reclaimed water when he invested in a water-cleaning technology company.

Now he is seeking investment opportunities in water reuse as a member of Element8, originally the Northwest Energy Angels, the first angel group in the nation to focus exclusively on clean technology and sustainability.
Kumar points to the restrictions on reclaimed water, and perhaps more absurd on rainwater as examples of the hold municipal entities have in protecting the revenue they derive from water sales.

"Those seeking to ban the collection of rainwater say it js a potential health hazard or that it's needed in their watershed," Kumar notes, then adds with an amused look "I need an exemption or a permit to collect rainwater and, most absurdly, you even need a special permit to use rainwater in your toilet."

But in what he views as an upside, there is ever-increasing pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency on urban communities to make their water cleaner before dumping it, "creating standards so high that it could well be reusable water."

"In this state, no matter how clean it has become, reclaimed water is not legally potable but in many states, there is no such absolute restriction," Kumar notes.
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Voters, rather than the High Court or lawmakers, should decide school funding

What the Washington State Supreme Court seems to have done, with its ruling last week that charter schools violate the state constitution, is to reinforce its message to the governor and the legislature: "you are not in charge in this state. We are."

And anyone who agrees with the assessment that the state highest court's two education-funding cases amount to unsettling steps into the separation-of-powers arena could also agree that the constitutional question the court is thus raising is one that merits a focused public discussion.

The question of whether the Supreme Court has embarked on an undesirable drift away from the principal of three equal branches of government can be put into discussion by conversation on social media and analysis and commentary from traditional media.

But closure to that question in the form of "a ruling" by the state's citizens, the ultimate court to which all three branches of government answer, can only come in a meaningful way with the kind of debate that occurs during election season when the judges actually have to face public scrutiny.

Meaning the three Supreme Court judges up for re-election a year from now, three of whom were in the majority in the 6-3 ruling, including Chief Justice Barbara Madsen who wrote the majority opinion, should face opponents who feel the court has encroached inappropriately on the essential separation of powers.

The value of competition in next year's election for those three justices, Charles Wiggins and James Johnson in addition to Madsen, isn't to seek to punish them for their views but rather to ensure a sufficient airing of public attitudes on the issue of whether they are endangering the proper separation of powers.

Certainly the role of the Supreme Court is to have the last word, passing judgement on laws passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. But what troubles concerned legal observers is that in the two education-funding decisions, the court has assumed for itself the first word, telling the governor and the legislature what they WILL do rather than passing judgment on what they did.

If the sitting judges are voted out, it will amount to an affirmation of the view that the court has gone too far and the remaining six judges can then ignore that at their peril.

Now for a review of the court decisions that lead to the questions about limitation of the powers of the court and the possible abandonment of the tradition that the high court imposes those constraints on itself.

The court's most recent ruling held that charter schools are unconstitutional, ultimately because they are governed by appointed rather than elected boards and that the constitution requires that the boards that oversee common schools must be elected.

The state constitution merely requires adequate support for common schools. So in decreeing that elected boards must govern common schools, the court has basically usurped the legislative and gubernatorial right to decide in the future the manner in which the constitutional funding requirement can be best carried out. That means the lawmakers might want to decide whether funding oversight is best served by elected or appointed boards, perhaps at the state level.

Budget leaders in both houses and both parties have suggested that the state take a larger role in oversight, as in setting pay, for example. And some lawmakers are even convinced that they have to do that, since the lawmakers, just as they are answerable to students to provide a good education, are answerable to state taxpayers to ensure that those school dollars the court has ordered them to increase are being spent as wisely as possible.

They realize they need to step into the management role in ways that could elude locally elected school boards.

In the first education-funding decision, known as the "McCleary decision," the court ordered the legislature to spend more money on education, then followed up by holding the lawmakers in contempt for failing to provide enough additional funding. And in the past few weeks the court actually imposed a $100,000-a-day fine on the lawmakers to failing to "sufficiently" fund education.

In that McCleary ruling, the court said common schools funding needed to be 'ample" but also "uniform" and "stable."

Now the court's sole position is spend more money, focusing only on "ample" while saying it has "no opinion" on the "stable" or "uniform" points.

Some court observers have described as curious the fact that the high court backed off from two of the three central points on education funding, leaving only the edict of spend more money.

And since in the constitution, common schools specifically excluded high schools and "normal schools," (which became the state's Eastern, Central and Western state universities) the court may have cast doubt on the constitutionality other programs not overseen by elected boards, like Running Start, a program by which high school students can gain college credit.

All represent more than enough reason for deliberation beyond the legislators, governor and the courts to include the public in decisions about where the state should go with education funding and the process by which that should occur. 
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Chelan wildfires devastation prompts mother-daughter fund-raising response

"When millennials join with boomers, better results happen," is how Deanna Oppenheimer sums up the success she and her daughter, 27-year-old Jenifer, had when, as part-time residents of Chelan, they were moved by the devastation they witnessed from the wildfires in the area to launch a local fund-raising effort for victims.

Oppenheimer, a leader in international finance while working in London from 2005 to 2012 as one of Barclay's key executives before returning to Seattle, and Jeni, who is heading off to get her MBA in the UK after three years with Global Impact in Washington, D.C., launched the fund the weekend after lightning strikes on August 13 started what became massive fires.

Deanna and Jeni Oppenheimer 

As of this week, the fires, which started, then converged into one around Lake Chelan and are now referred to as "the Chelan fire complex," have burned more than 92,000 acres and destroyed 21 residences and has actually been dramatically surpassed in impact by fires in Okanogan County.

"The passion came when Jeni and I went to Chelan to check on things. Seeing cabins burned to the ground in our favorite ski cove, seeing the ducks slick with oil from the burned boats, walking down empty streets and talking with the farmers at the Wednesday market that had lost everything, moved us to tears....and then action," Deanna said.

Deanna explained that they set a modest initial goal of $5,000 with the funds to go to a local effort focused solely on fire relief, meaning small-scale capability to allocate the funds and thus they didn't want to set a large goal that would raise significantly more than the local organization could raise on its own.

Jeni interviewed the head of the local organization called Give Naked, a giving organization that operates under the umbrella of the 501c3 Chelan Valley Hope while Deanna spoke with community leaders in Chelan and Manson before unveiling their campaign.

The plea for support went out to family and friends by way of a site called Crowdrise, a for-profit website that uses crowdsourcing to raise charitable donations for things like medical bills, volunteer trips and what it promotes as 1.5 million charities, touting the ability to create a site in 42 seconds.

The original goal of $5,000 quickly became $10,000, noted Jeni, who chose the Crowdrise approach to the fundraising.

And of course among the first to make donations were Jeni's brother, James, 23, and John Oppenheimer, Columbia Hospitality founder and CEO, who merely looked on with presumed satisfaction while his wife and daughter went about their fund raising.

Having known John and Deanna for a long time, the focus and zeal that Deanna and Jeni brought to their cause was no surprise.

"Now we are just under $20,000 and not even halfway to our target date of September 14," Jeni advised me this morning.

"What overwhelmed us was the incredible generosity of those we asked and the power of the social media network," said Deanna, who founded the consumer-focused boutique advisory firm CameoWorks after returning to Seattle. "We raised the $5,000 in 25 HOURS not days, and decided to double the goal to $10,000."

 

Deanna, who has had a social media hand in publicizing their effort with a lengthy post on LinkedIn, sums up their success as "old school networking meets new school technology in the area of charitable fundraising."

"The combination of a passionate cause, crowdfunding technology and good old personal networking taught me a lot about the new way to raise awareness," she added.

 

"The campaign has been a lot of fun to work on together but it's been exactly that....a lot of work," Deanna said. "As a result, we are not planning on broadening to support other geographic areas.  However, our campaign is a great model for someone connected to those areas to follow if they are interested."

And the model is one that could spur groups in other smaller communities that have been dramatically impacted by the wildfires, particularly those in Okanogan CountyGo to link  

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Deanna describes the model for their success:  "Multi-generational teams that combine disruptive thinking and youthful energy with seasoned expertise and lessons-learned experience are more successful than monolithic group think."


But Jeni puts it in a more personal vein. "This is something we wanted to do together." 
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How new state cancer-research fund came about in the 2015 Legislature

 

The tale of how Sen. Andy Hill, a near-miraculous survivor of lung cancer and the powerful Republican overseer of writing the Senate's budget, helped guide funding to create a new state cancer-research fund might have been the story of a legislator's personal cause and vision brought to reality.

Instead, what has begun to emerge is a tale of more typical legislative ineptitude, because most observers aren't really sure what the Hill-guided budget inclusion of a Cancer Research Endowment Fund brought about or why it was carried out with the intrigue and confrontational politics that occurred.

One certainty is that Hill was a key architect of a Republican conviction that funding needed to end for the decade-old Life Science Discovery Fund, which provided grants to an array of emerging life science and biopharma companies and some viewed as a logical administrator of a new cancer-research fund.

So in the end the Legislature's 2015 final budget compromise killed funding for LSDF but did not put the organization itself out of business.

Meanwhile, the legislation creating the new cancer fund, referred to as CARE, was approved with a $5 million matching grant this year and a $10 million matching grant next fiscal year and thereafter to fund cancer research in this state. Maybe.

But before any of the grants can be made, there must first be "proof of non-state match," meaning there is no certainty that any of those state dollars will actually be spent without the emergence of entities seeking to match the grants.

For reasons many outside of the political arena couldn't quite understand, Republicans, with Hill as a leader of the viewpoint, didn't like the concept of funding startups while Democrats were strong supporters of LSDF and the potential jobs grant-recipient companies might create.

But Hill apparently, on more than one occasion, suggested that the administrative structure and staff of LSDF, including its well-regarded Executive Director John DesRosier, could become the overseeing entity for the new cancer-research fund. So perhaps Hill will explore that possibility.

Someone might have explained to Hill, a former Microsoft manager, that cancer research is a life science discovery activity and that rather than forcing the elimination of LSDF's funding in a bitter and controversial battle with Democrats who supported LSDF, he could have forced cancer research to be its new focus.

In fact, a proposed initiative, backed by organizations like the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, that failed to gain enough signatures to make the ballot last year would have created a large pool of dollars, funded by tobacco-tax increases, a fund that would have been administrated by LSDF as an added responsibility.

And Rep. Ross Hunter, the Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee and also a cancer survivor, had led an effort in the 2015 session on behalf of a bill with a similar goal of establishing a cancer-research fund with dollars from an increase in the tobacco tax, but the bill never got through the committee challenges.

Hill's 2009 conquest of stage 3 lung cancer, including a pronouncement at one point that it was terminal before his treatment with a new targeted therapy left him cancer free in a matter of weeks, is a remarkable story that would have made his support for a meaningful step to fund cancer research laudable and a cause for broad support.

Hill made it clear that one of the reasons he ran for office in the fall of 2010 was to "advocate for continued scientific research and development of life saving and life altering therapies."

In the end the relatively small amount that the CARE fund provides isn't in the same ball game that commitments like the $200 million lawmakers in neighboring Oregon approved to support a $1 billion public-private effort to bring the nation's top cancer researchers to Oregon.

And Oregon is only one of the states that have made such major commitments to cancer research.

One of my friends long involved in watching legislative machinations offered an analysis of what occurred: "You kill LSDF which uses OPM (other people's money, i.e., the tobacco settlement), and then appropriate precious few taxpayer dollars and create a new entity to do close to the same thing LSDF does, or did. 

"Why not have kept LSDF and directed that $5 million or $10 million of its existing funds be focused on cancer research specifically?" 

The kind of money the Legislature approved is a relative pin prick being thrown at cancer research at random, to be run by an entity that doesn't even exist yet, but will require some overhead to become operational.

What the Legislature created may have been the only potential state expenditure that could have gotten through a group of lawmakers whose Republican members were adamant about not spending anything that would mean new taxes, and that would presumably include funding cancer research.

Thus what Hill was able to get support for winds up as a pale shadow of the potential $1 billion that Initiative 1356, which failed to gain the signatures needed to make the 2014 ballot, would have raised for cancer research through a dramatic increase in the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products, as well as marijuana.

If what really is only a gesture toward cancer research by the state at this point proves successful by any measure, it's possible that future legislative sessions may find the courage to step up to greater commitment in legislative support for the world-class cancer research and care that has developed in this state.
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Supreme Court's school-funding fine brings collective confusion to the issue

 

Washington isn't the only state where the struggle over education funding has reached the courts. But it's the only state in which the threat of punishment for legislative failure to act has actually become "a bomb" that was dropped, meaning the court's threat of punitive action for its finding that the Legislature was in contempt became action in the form of $100,000 per day fine for legislative failure to sufficiently fund basic education.

Additionally intriguing is the fact the court's six women and three men, each of whose civic and legal credentials make them an extremely impressive collection of jurists, would wind up, in their unanimous agreement, producing not collective wisdom but collective confusion.

The court stirred concern about violating separation of powers for stepping into the legislature's funding role when it first told the lawmakers they were not meeting the state constitution's requirement for adequate funding of basic education. But there has also been the suggestion that if the court was going to step into the legislature's constitutional territory by ordering them to spend more money, it should logically have told them take control of how the money was spent.

Some court observers this week used the word "curiously" to describe the fact that the high court backed off from two of its original decision's central points on education funding, what has become known as the "McCleary decision."

In the original ruling, the court said K-12 funding needed to be 'ample" but also "uniform" and "stable."

Now the court's sole position is spend more money, focusing only on "ample" while saying it has "no opinion" on the "stable" or "uniform" points.

And though the court told the legislators they should go into special session immediately to begin arriving at the solution to the funding problem, the lawmakers basically replied, in so many words, that they'd decide to go back into session when they felt like their discussions had brought them to a decision.

Could be they decided, now that the court has dropped its punishment "bomb," that the penalty isn't that big a deal since if they are going to increase education funding, the $100,000 daily tab will take more than three months to equal $10 million, all of which will go into a special education fund anyway.

Anyone who thinks the court's decision last September holding the Legislature in contempt for failing to make progress on "full funding" of public education, and imposition of that $100,000 fine was a decision devoid of political considerations will draw an amused smile from those more attuned to political realities.

In its original ruling in 2012 that the state was failing to fully fund basic education and thus violating the state constitution, the court was careful to try to sidestep the full brunt of a constitutional conflict. The court said it didn't intend to "dictate the means by which the Legislature carries out its constitutional responsibility or otherwise directly involve itself in the choices and tradeoffs that are uniquely within the legislature's purview."

There is at least a suspicion that political considerations would account for the fact that, while the high court told the legislature it had to put more money into basic education, it failed to take, or even suggest, the logical accompanying step of telling the legislature to take control of how the money for schools is raised and spent.

Though it's possible the state taking total control of education might have been what the court had in mind when it included "uniform" and "stable" in its original decision, before eliminating them from the latest decision.

Teacher salaries and how they are arrived at around the state, through local negotiations with sometimes friendly or fearful school boards, is a major cost factor. The Washington Education Association likes it that way and the court would have set off an outcry from teachers' union members and their supporters across the state if the legislature had been told to not just provide more money, but to take control so it could create spending efficiencies.

Budget leaders in both houses and both parties have suggested that the state take a larger role in setting pay. And some even realize that they have to do that, since the lawmakers, just as they are answerable to students to provide a good education, are answerable to state taxpayers to ensure that those school dollars are being spent as wisely as possible. They can't delegate that task.

It will be much harder for Democrats in the legislature to confront irate teachers' union members than for Republicans. Thus, perhaps, Republicans who control the state Senate should be allowed to take the lead on funding reform that puts the state in the management role.

As Dick Davis, president of the Washington Research Council, wrote in a column after the court's 2012 decision holding the legislature in contempt for its education funding failure, "As the primary funder and constitutionally responsible party, the state needs to step into the management role. That preserves collective bargaining, but changes the dynamic. And, negotiations could include provisions recognizing regional cost-of-living variation throughout the state."

As indicated earlier, adequate funding for education has reached higher courts in a number of states for a variety of reasons.
Thus the debate about separation of powers and limitation of the powers of the court that the Supreme Court decision set off in this state is a discussion now going on in an array of states.

One is Texas, where that state's Supreme Court will hear oral arguments September 1 on a lower-court ruling sought by dozens of independent school districts in the state.

The Texas case has far more sex appeal than Washington's, since the all-Republican Supreme Court is considered likely to overturn a ruling by District Judge John Dietz, who is identified as "Austin Democrat and State District Court Judge," that the state's 'Robinhood style' funding mechanism is unconstitutional."

That system requires districts with high property tax values or large amounts of tax revenue from oil and natural gas interests to turn over part of their property tax collections to poorer districts.

To bring things full circle from one state to another, one of the things being talked about in Washington to correct the funding disparity among districts more reliant on special levies is a property tax swap whereby some richer districts would send money to poorer districts.

I'm not sure how that would come about legislatively, but it has an amusing ring of "Robinhood style" funding.
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