Log in
updated 2:54 PM CDT, Jul 28, 2018

FlynnsHarp logo 042016

State's last GOP governor 40 years ago once described himself as "darn good governor"

JohnDSpellman_Banner

It’s virtually certain that Gov. Jay Inslee will be re-elected on November 3 to a third term as Washington’s chief executive, which means that by the end of this term it will have been 44 years since a Republican was elected to the state’s highest office.

So the fact that for nine consecutive elections, with number 10 on November 3 all but certain, the state’s voters have opted for the Democratic candidate must give those who care about such things pause to wonder what kind of governor was that last one from the GOP. After all, he set the stage for the nation’s longest gubernatorial losing streak by either party.

Gov. John D. Spellman(Frmr) Gov. John D. SpellmanSo when thinking of that political oddity, I often reflect on an interview I did with that last Republican, John D. Spellman, 10 years ago on the 30th anniversary of his swearing-in. I asked him: “what kind of a governor were you?”

So Spellman, who died in January 2018 at the age of 91, replied with what I described as a twinkle in his Irish eyes, “I was a darn good governor.”

And there’s much that happened during his single four-year term, a time when the state faced what may have been its worst economic challenge up to that time, to justify that assessment from a historical perspective.

But it would have been difficult for many who were there at the time to agree since during his 1980-84 term as governor he managed to make decisions that irritated almost every segment of the political spectrum.
 
One such decision came about because of his strong commitment to environmental protection when he used his authority to prevent permitting for what he felt was an environmentally risky development project in a sensitive shoreline area of Whatcom County.
 
He made that decision in the face of enormous pressure from business groups and many legislators, but most notably, he turned down a direct request from President Ronald Reagan because, as some who knew Spellman later observed, integrity came before pressure, even from the president. Imagine that in this day and age.
 
I often passed Spellman, then in his early 80s, in the lobby of what was then the Columbia Center Building en route to his office at his Seattle law firm, Carney Badley Spellman, where he was still putting in four days a week and we’d pause to catch up.
 
Spellman, handsome and personable with a winning smile, was a graduate of Seattle University then Georgetown Law School. His ever-present pipe would be lit and relit during lengthy discussion sessions, some of which we had in the lobby of the Columbia Center when pipe smoking was permitted.
 
Among the decisions that he knew would face stiff opposition were those related to taxes.
 
“We passed more taxes in my four years than they have before or since," Spellman recalled in our interview.. "One of the challenges in seeking to get re-elected was that I said I would raise taxes only as a last resort and some people took that to mean I wouldn't raise taxes.”
 
"We had a crisis, as evidenced by the fact we had a 13.6 percent unemployment rate at one point, and in crises, you have to act," he added. "People didn't elect me to do nothing."
 
Spellman practiced politics in a long-gone era when Republican elected officials could be moderate enough to sometimes find Democrats to the right of them.

In fact, those interested in political history might find it intriguing that the Democrat who defeated Spellman after his single term was Booth Gardner, Harvard Business School graduate, a successful businessman and heir to the Weyerhaeuser fortune.

The other intriguing political oddity in this state relates to the office of Secretary of State, where the election drought is for Democrats, and it's two decades longer than the governor post.

A Democrat was last elected to the position that oversees state elections 60 years ago, in 1960.
 
The four men who held the role, leading up to the election eight years ago of current Secretary of State Kim Wyman, treated it as a nonpartisan job, according to prominent researcher and pollster Stuart Elway.
 
“And a lot of voters feel better about themselves if they don’t just vote a straight ticket, all Democrats or all Republicans, so they look for a place they can vote the opposite party,” Elway offered. “And the Republican secretaries of state made voting the ‘opposite’ party easier because they were good custodians of the office.”
 
Many observers from both parties agree that Wyman who, like Inslee, is seeking a third term, has done a commendable job handling the elections that constitute the position’s most important responsibility.

Continue reading

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

ARES-Nevada-Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Continue reading

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

Port-of-Seattle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Continue reading

Deeds of Brien Wygle, like many in retirement, tucked away until his death brought recall

Brien Wygle Brien Wygle - photo by Getty.edu

Brien Wygle was comfortable with risky environments, whether in the air as a test pilot for Boeing and later in life flying aerobatic biplanes or on the water as a hydroplane racer. But after hydroplane legend Bill Muncey ran over the right half of his hull at 200-plus miles an hour to get past him in a race on Lake Washington, Wygle decided the skies were safer.

Wygle’s death on September 15 at the age of 96 at The Bellettini retirement community in Bellevue, where he had moved in 2017, reminded me of the Muncey story he told me one day when we were visiting.

His career as a hydroplane driver had been for a brief two years in 1957 to 1958, although his races on the circuit, driving the Thriftway Too and Hawaii Kai III, included the major ones like the Gold Cup, Diamond Cup, and Sierra Cup.
But it was flying that Wygle loved, from the time the Calgary native was a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II in Europe, India, and Burma.

He joined Boeing in 1951 in Wichita as a flight test pilot and stayed 39 years, retiring as vice president of Flight Operations in 1990.

So what prompts me to do my column as an obit on Wygle this week? The fact that his story, like those of many people of advanced age, living quietly in retirement communities or remaining cared for in their homes, stay tucked away in their minds or scrapbooks or photo albums until death allows the world to revisit their special moments.

Those like William H, Gates Sr., who died a day earlier, appropriately have their stories and contributions spread across their communities’ awareness right up to the day they die.

So back to Wygle. His love of flying continued into his 80s, retiring when his hearing loss required it at age 84.

And regarding the Muncey incident that made Wygle decide to stick to the challenges of the skies, he recalled he was leading Muncey and as they came out of the turn, he “heard the roar of Muncey’s boat overtaking me and suddenly there he was roaring over the side of my boat.”

“The damn guy didn’t care if he killed me or not as long as he got past me,” Wygle recalled. “I figured the next time might not be one I survived, so I packed it in.”

And regarding the Muncey incident that made Wygle decide to stick to the challenges of the skies, he recalled he was leading Muncey and as they came out of the turn, he “heard the roar of Muncey’s boat overtaking me and suddenly there he was roaring over the side of my boat.”

“The damn guy didn’t care if he killed me or not as long as he got past me,” Wygle recalled. “I figured the next time might not be one I survived, so I packed it in.”

Though less visible than those of the most prominent, his contributions were nonetheless meaningful and important to remember.

He sponsored minority engineering students at the University of Washington and worked to advance women and minority engineers. He volunteered to tutor adults seeking their GED.


More visibly, he was a founder of the Museum of Flight and on its board for several years.

So there you have the story of the contributions that made Brien Wygle special, even if tucked away to be recalled only at his death.
 
Continue reading

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

911-memorial

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


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

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

Angel-investor leaders applaud SEC's new 'accredited investor' definition

Angel_Investor_banner

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

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

Continue reading

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

President_Ronald_Reagan_and_Senator_Slade_Gorton

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

Continue reading

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

Kelly_ischool_banner

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

Continue reading

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

coronavirus_structure

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

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

Continue reading

If the new face in GOP field wins the primary, governor's race could be interesting

washington-state-capitol

Raul Garcia, Cuban immigrant and osteopathic physician from Yakima, Is an unusual gubernatorial hopeful facing an uphill election battle in the most crowded gubernatorial field in state history. But he has suddenly begun attracting media attention in the closing days of the primary campaign.
 
And media attention at a time of crescendoing crises of COVID-19, riots and looting in the streets and economic bad news is difficult to attract these days, even to things of broad import like elections.
 
But what has begun to generate the attention to Garcia, 49, who made up his mind to run and filed at the last minute, is that he has attracted the endorsement and support from virtually every prominent member of the respected cadre of Republican mainstream moderates.
 
Former Gov. Dan Evans, Former Sen. Slade Gorton and Former Attorney General Rob McKenna all endorsed him, as have former secretaries of state Ralph Munro and Sam Reed. Reed is serving as Garcia' campaign chair.
 
Garcia fled Cuba with his mother when he was 11, grew up in Miami, went to osteopathic medical school in New York and came to Yakima 13 years ago to help launch the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, an osteopathic medical school.
 
If he should make the final two out of next Tuesday's primary and get to contest Inslee in the general election, he is likely to attract voter interest in ways that won't make Inslee's team comfortable because they will have to undertake the usual political attacks with care.
 
Garcia is an immigrant who talks of what the ideology of Fidel Castro did to his growing-up years in Cuba. He's a physician who has been on the COVID-19 front lines at his hospital. And attractive to GOP moderates, he laments the lack of middle ground in politics and an unwillingness of elected officials to work together.
 
In this health-conscious, COVID-19 time, the fact that he's an emergency room doctor in Yakima, which is where he met his wife, Jessica, a former emergency and trauma nurse, while working together in a Yakima emergency department, will have appeal.  
 
Until recently, it appeared that Inslee would face one of four conservative Republicans in the general: State Sen. Phil Fortunato, initiative king Tim Eyman, former Bothell mayor Joshua Freed or former Republic police chief Loren Culp. None was attractive to Republican moderates. Then Garcia began to emerge, basically since Memorial Day.
 
Explaining why the GOP mainstream was backing Garcia, Munro said: "He has the philosophy to make things work, on moving the state forward. All the candidates are anti-this or anti-that. Garcia knows the best is ahead not behind us."

"A lot of people are concerned that we are moving farther and farther to the left," added Munro. "He lived it in Cuba and tells us what it is."
 
Garcia's website makes clear what Sam Reed describes as a "wart" that Garcia was convicted of reckless driving six years ago after a DUI arrest.
 
But as the campaign moves from next week's primary to two finalists vying over the next three months for a victory in the General Election, more than his opponent's campaign is waiting to become uncomfortable and maybe challenging for Inslee.
 
Inslee's team isn't yet aware but may have heard rumors, about the issue that will soon explode onto the campaign scene that isn't part of any political effort to unseat him.
 
Rather the effort is to pin Inslee the agonies and woes of those who have been caught up in the unemployment claims debacle that has occurred in the Employment Security Department (ESD) headed by his appointee, Susan (Suzie) LeVine
 
As many as 100,000 Washington residents have had delayed or unpaid claims for the unemployment insurance payments and for thousands, the lack of those checks has become a crisis. And if the federal $600 unemployment check ends this month, or shrinks, the crisis will escalate and expand into a crisis that could rival the COVID-19 crisis in terms of impact.
 
Lynn Brewer, a former Enron executive who has spent years going after big-company CEOs who fail to put their shareholders first, made a formal public disclosure request for all emails between Inslee and ESD LeVine.  
 
The request from Brewer's attorney, Joan Mell, asked for "Any emails with an attached official report or brief related to fraud or delayed unemployment insurance payments sent from ESD to the Governor's Office from March 15, 2020 through June 6, 2020."  
 
After some phone and email contacts, ESD's records department head, Robert Page emailed Mell "the estimated date to complete a response to your public record request is no later than December 31, 2020." In other words, after the election.
 
When the comic relief of the agency's handling of the request comes to light, and the lawsuits against the department that will soon be filed in quest of those emails lands, with an election campaign getting underway, Inslee won't be a happy soul.  
 
A Seattle Times article On LeVine, as the department's role in the unemployment payments disaster began to unfold, said she has "operated as a potent, behind-the-scenes force in Democratic politics, and over the past several months hosted a parade of 2020 presidential candidates in private, salon-style fundraisers at her Seattle home in her role as a deputy finance chair for the Democratic National Committee."
 
Not the kind of appointee a Democratic governor who hopes to win a place in a Biden administration decides to fire. And that issue may pose a problem as the gubernatorial campaign unfolds.  
 
Raul GarciaRaul GarciaRepublican legislative leaders suggest Inslee's unwillingness to call a special session to deal with the state's financial crisis is due to his unwillingness to have a broad awareness of the depths of that financial crisis unfold.
 
Could Inslee actually face a re-election challenge? Not likely if one of the candidates other than Garcia gets the nomination.

I asked Stuart Elway, perhaps the state's most respected pollster, if it was possible Inslee could face a serious re-election challenge.
 
He referred to his most recent poll that showed Inslee at 45 percent, "all opponents at 33 percent, but 24 percent were undecided, which is interesting because everyone knows who Inslee is and yet 24 percent indicate they don't know how they are going to vote."
 
"I think Inslee people should be a little concerned about 24 percent who may basically be waiting to see what develops in the campaign," he added.

Continue reading

Could the governor's office be follow-on prize in this year's lieutenant governor race?

WA.State_.Capitol

The battle for the nominations for the part-time position of Washington's lieutenant governor has drawn a cluster of hopefuls based in part at least on what some pundits see as the strong possibility that the governor's office could be a subsequent prize awaiting whoever wins the post in the November general election.
 
That isn't at all what the framers of the state's constitution had in mind when they created the position of an elected official to fill in for the governor from time to time and preside over the Senate when the legislature is in session. And hang around in case the governor died or was incapacitated. Or, as with Inslee, a possible appointment to a Biden administration, should there be one.
 
That limited constitutional role made it historically a job coveted by those who first made a name outside of politics, then sought an easy ride into a job most voters likely don't really pay much attention to.
 
Thus this year is only the third time in the past century that a person running for lieutenant governor nurtures the hope that winning the job could lead to becoming the next state chief executive, sooner rather than when Gov. Jay Inslee completes the third term for which he's now running. And has promised to serve out.
 
The "sooner" looms like an apple hanging from the tree because of the much-discussed possibility that if Joe Biden is elected, he would tap Inslee.
 
The interesting side note is that by the time Biden could win office, Inslee's image could be badly tarnished as the effort unfolds to tie him tightly to the state's employment security disaster that has devastated the lives of thousands of state residents forced to wait endlessly and needlessly for their unemployment checks.
 
Inslee's protection of his employment security head Susan "Suzi' LeVine and avoidance at press gatherings about discussing the disaster and LeVine's role in it will be made an issue in the governor's race. And if Inslee's image begins to tarnish, it will be interesting to watch how the four Democrats in the lieutenant governor's race handle questions about the unemployment disaster.
 
But back to the race for the $115,000 annual salary position, a race that has attracted four Democrats, five Republicans and two Libertarians to this year's contest.
 
Three of the state's first nine lieutenant governors actually became the state's chief executive when the man who was governor died in office. One of them, Louis Hart, was elected to a full term after succeeding Ernest Lister in February of 1919, a month after Lister took office.
 
William Jennings (Wee) Coyle, a former UW football great and decorated war hero, started it all in 1920 when he parlayed his name familiarity into a landslide victory in the race for the state's second-highest elective office, openly indicating he hoped to become governor four years later.
 
Coyle was only 32, a handsome former UW star quarterback just back from the World War I battlefields when he strategized to use the lieutenant governor role to position himself to run for governor, a race he ran in 1924, but lost.
 
For most of the next 96 years, the office was held by those who had first risen to prominence beyond the political sphere.
 
It wasn't until Brad Owen, a Democrat and former state legislator from Shelton was elected in 1996 and was re-elected four times that a lieutenant governor created real importance for the position.
 
During his five terms, Owen created for the office the role of a goodwill ambassador for the state in international trade and promotion of Washington products overseas. The lieutenant governor also serves as chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development, Tourism and Trade. Plus Owen led trade missions to parts of the world where the title "lieutenant governor" opens doors.
 
But the history of the position has provided some interesting political lore.
 
The fact the lieutenant governor is often described as "a heartbeat away from the governor's chair" has seemed to hold little importance for Washington voters, despite those three early in the 20th century who rose to the top state office because of the deaths of the governors.
 
Colorful Victor A. Meyers, a mustachioed maestro who earned a reputation as a big-name band leader, decided to seek the office as a Democrat in 1932. He won and was re-elected four times before being defeated in 1952 by Emmett Anderson, who had gained fame as the "Grand Exalted Ruler" of the Elks.
 
Anderson, like Coyle, had hoped to use the post as a springboard to the governorship and made an unsuccessful run for governor in 1956 and lost to Albert D. Rosellini.
 
That allowed John A. Cherberg, a failed football coach at the University of Washington, to run for the job as a Democrat and win. Cherberg commenced a 32-year stand in the job that made him the longest-tenured lieutenant governor ever in the nation.
 
The most interesting effort to boost a non-politician into the job came in 1968 when then-Gov. Dan Evans and his state Republican chairman, C. Montgomery (Gummie) Johnson along with future U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, then running for attorney general, hatched a plan to oust Cherberg from the office, which by then he had held for 12 years. The goal was to set the stage for the election of the first black man since reconstruction to become governor four years later.
 
I've written about Evans, Johnson, and Gorton seeking to boost the fortunes of Art Fletcher, a black city councilman from Pasco who had gathered some national prominence for the development of a self-help program in the East Pasco ghetto.
 
The effort by three Republican leaders, back in 1968, to create an opportunity for an African-American to have a shot at becoming governor needs to have a high-visibility role at this time, in particular, rather than being lost in Washington State history. I wrote a 50-years-on column in 2018 at Evans's suggestion, as he reminded me of "the Republican plot to get a black man a chance to be governor."
 
So Johnson talked popular and prominent hydroplane driver Bill Muncey into running for the post, once confiding to me off the record that Muncey had wanted to know what a lieutenant governor did. "Not a lot," Johnson had replied, with some honesty.
 
Fletcher won the GOP primary but failed to dislodge Cherberg in the general election. But a year later, thanks in part to the visibility Evans helped create for him, he gained a position in the Nixon Administration's U.S. Department of Labor, where he created the first Affirmative Action program
 
By the time he retired in 1988, Cherberg had built a reputation for integrity and even-handedness in his role as the State Senate's presiding officer. And with the election of Joel Pritchard, a respected Republican congressman, and former legislator, the job took on an increasingly important role that Owen continued to build on during his years in the office.
 
Incidentally, the state's top-two primary system doesn't guarantee any party a spot in the general election, so it would be possible for the votes to split in such a way that two Democrats or two Republicans could advance to the general. Election.

Continue reading

Statues part of history's ambiguity that fuels discussion about evils of racism

Johannes_Adam_Simon_Oertel_Pulling_Down_the_Statue_of_King_George_III_N.Y.C._ca._1859 Johannes Adam Simon Oertel Pulling Down the Statue of King George III

Nothing was more certain to frame the clash between the national reckoning with the evil of racism and a history bristling with racial ambiguity than the phenomenon of statue destruction that has come to mark the current wave of protests against racial injustice.
 
The destruction of statues has been the violent counterpoint to the mostly peaceful protests across the nation, but that violence has begun to stir some controversy, including those who think the actions have gone well beyond the acceptable.  
 
What began as an effort to tear down statues erected to honor some of the best-known Confederate generals has moved on to target virtually any historical figure who owned slaves. In San Francisco's Golden Gate Park recently that statue destruction included ones to honor St. Junipero Serra, founder of the string of California missions, and Francis Scott Key, who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner. And likely surprising to many, the statue of Ulysses S. Grant, the commander of the army that defeated the Confederacy and who became president.
 
The pushback reactions included a tongue-in-cheek one from the small-town mayor in Ohio who announced the creation of a "statue sanctuary" city and offered his community as a place to which the felled statues, or those not yet toppled, could be shipped for protected display.  
 
There was the Catholic Archbishop who, explaining "there was evil here," performed an exorcism at the site in the park where the statue of Junipero Serra had been torn down.
 
And significantly, there's the black mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, who scolded protestors who tore down statues while damaging Golden Gate Park, saying "when people take action in the name of my community, they should actually involve us. And when they vandalize our public parks, that's their agenda, not ours."  
 
There were even some who suggested that statues of George Washington, who owned slaves, and Thomas Jefferson, who fathered children with one of his slaves, should be removed. Those suggestions helped fuel the controversy over the statues
 
One of the toppled monuments, a 10-ton cross erected in a Seattle cemetery 94 years ago to honor the memory of Confederate soldiers, prompted a call from my longtime friend, Gary Neeleman, author of perhaps the definitive work on one of the most racially ambiguous chapters of American history.
 
I'm referring to the story of the thousands of southerners who fled to Brazil to establish new lives after the fall of their beloved Confederacy and their refusal to again become citizens of the United States.
 
Neeleman's four decades of research on that bit of history included numerous trips to Brazil, both because of his ties to that nation and because of his fluency with the Portuguese language. He and his wife, Rose, became taken early in his professional career there with the 1866-67 emigration of the confederates, who quickly became known as the Confederados.
 
His book, Stars and Bars Under the Southern Cross, included dozens of interviews with descendants of the original 7,000 families who moved to Brazil at the invitation of Brazil's emperor, as well as newspaper clippings and letters shared by those descendants. In addition, the Neeleman's collected hundreds of photos.
 
The book was published in Portuguese by the most prominent university in Brazil but awaits a publisher to produce the book in English.
 
Long a little-known part of American history, the story has been gathering some attention, including a front-page piece in USA Today in 2015 on the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and a recent documentary on the History Channel.  
 
And those who relate the story with anything resembling sympathy or kind thoughts for those descendants of the Confederados, who gather annually for a celebration at the cemetery where many of the original Confederates and their descendants are buried, suffer some criticism.  
 
Thus I'm sure it was for USA Today whose cover story included a photo of kids wearing baseball caps with the Confederate battle flag emblazoned on them.
 
I've done a couple of columns on Neeleman, a longtime colleague of mine from our United Press International days, on his three books on Brazil's history, including the one on the Confederates when it was published in 2015 in Portuguese, the language of Brazil.
 
I got some reader pushback over that column for the comment that the decades of research by Neeleman and his wife, Rose, through aged documents, old letters and newspaper clippings, and interviews with descendants had led him to conclude that history rather than racial hatred, and pride rather than prejudice, were the driving forces for those who moved to Brazil.
 
And likely even more pushback from any who will be offended by our conversation this week when he explained that his research and conversations with descendants made it clear that the Confederadoes didn't emigrate to Brazil to retain slavery in their two primary Brazilian cities.
 
"Many of them bought ranches that had Black slaves," Neeleman told me." But in virtually 90 percent of the cases, they freed the slaves and hired them to continue their work on the ranches. Our research indicated they were frequently quoted as explaining that they wanted to hire their help so they could fire those who weren't working."
 
And because I'm fascinated by little known bits of history, I find it thought-provoking that the only substantial outmigrations from this country other the Confederates to Brazil, was the migration by freed slaves to West Africa, beginning in the early decades of the 1800s, to settle in and help create the nation of Liberia.
 
I thought it appropriate that I close with a comment from Annette Gordon-Reed, a Black historian of U.S. slavery, legal scholar, and member of the Presidential Initiative on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery. She won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for her explosive 2008 work, "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family."

Here is what Gordon-Reed, a professor of history and the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, " offered in an interview on the ambiguity of slavery:

"No one puts a monument up to Washington or Jefferson to promote slavery. The monuments go up because, without Washington, there likely would not have been an American nation. They put up monuments to T.J. because of the Declaration of Independence, which every group has used to make their place in American society. Or they go up because of T.J.'s views on separation of church and state and other values that we hold dear. I think on these two, Washington and Jefferson, in particular, you take the bitter with sweet. The main duty is not to hide the bitter parts"
 

Continue reading

Facility for mental health issues, addictions may ride a post-virus healthcare tsunami

Screen-Shot-2020-06-16-at-4.11.37-PM

In seeking to build a special facility in the hills north of Santa Barbara for those with mental health issues and addictions, Todd Dean may have caught a wave that could well become a post-coronavirus healthcare tsunami.

Dean recalls that his own personal struggles, as well as candid feedback from CEOs he coaches, spurred him to focus on creating "a world-class wellness center.", And his extensive background in venture and angel-investment funding provided him the key to proceeding to seek funders for the launch of Sanjara Wellness.

The birth of the idea for Sanjara, a name derived from Sanskrit words meaning love, forgiveness, peace, and happiness, and the launch of construction on the facility came well before the arrival of the coronavirus. But the impact and fallout from the pandemic seem likely to put Dean's project at the forefront of confronting what is coming to ail society.

Todd DeanTodd DeanDean, 51, created his own venture fund in 2004 and that moved him into creating the Keiretsu Forum Northwest, the Seattle chapter of the global investment and deal flow organization created in the Bay Area in 2000.


Keiretsu brought him into regular contact with accredited investors and CEOs so he left Keiretsu to focus on working with a number of entrepreneurs and helping them grow their companies.
But as a coach for a growing number of the CEOs he worked with, he says he came to realize the extent of challenges they faced.
 
"People I meet and work with are struggling with marriages, with their kids, with suicide, with depression, with mental health illness and it's just continued to grow through the years," Dean noted. "So that was really the genesis of wanting to create and build a center, hence, Sanjara Wellness, to solve these issues."
 
So the construction of Sanjara, and fund-raising that he targets at $20 million, got underway. Then came the pandemic.

Dean notes that as the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic impact have negatively affected the mental health of a wide array of people, industry experts are predicting there will be a growing need for greater access to behavioral health providers.

"As one expert I read about put it, that you could attract more investors to mental health start-ups going forward," Dean said.

A couple of statistics that Dean shared were that equity funding for mental health startups reached a record high in the first quarter of 2020 and that behavioral health companies are making strategic moves to grow, such as exploring mergers and acquisitions.
 
"To be honest, I didn't know there would be such a correlation between COVID-19 and mental health issues, addictions, depression, suicide, and other related things," Dean said.

Sanjara will have high security for its 30 beds, with 15 men sleeping on one floor and 15 women on the other floor, he explained.  
 
The building is finished but the interior is still being completed, but Dean said there is already a small staff in place.

"Services include technology, spiritual aspects, education with structure, and some eastern philosophies as well and we will also have amenities like massage, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and other spa aspects as well," he added.

Dean said costs for those who will be served there are still being worked out, but added: "we will cater to CEOs, rock stars,  models, actors and actresses, and their families." 

"It's a high-end facility because I want to make sure our investors get a return on their investment first," he said. "I expect our investors will be getting an ROI in years three or four," Dean said, adding that he intends to expand the concept to other cities and then other countries.
Continue reading

Political issues emerge for Inslee as the state seeks to cope with major jobs funds theft

Covid_Theft_Banner

The necessary steps Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took to get a handle on the spread of the coronavirus in the state where it first appeared have apparently achieved the goal of controlling the virus. But the ensuing developments following Inslee's action have spiraled out of control and put the governor in a hunker-down, defensive situation.
 
First came the unfortunate impact of the economy halt as 600,000 state residents lost their jobs, sending them seeking state unemployment checks to survive the crisis.
 
Then Washington became the epicenter of a ring of foreign thieves tapping into the unemployment claims system, the calculation of the millions lost magnifying each day.
 
It's now estimated that the loss to the state is at nearly $1 billion, dwarfing the loss suffered by the handful of other states whose payment systems were hacked, reportedly by scammers including a Nigerian crime ring.

Suzie LevineSuzie LevineFederal officials said Washington suffered far more losses than the half dozen other states that experience hackers because this state had a vulnerable system. That brought an unseemly defensive response from the governor's staff that if the feds knew Washington systems for handing claims was vulnerable, "why didn't they tell us." Really?
 
Then came the far more unfortunate, and frankly indefensible, action Inslee's Employment Security Department (ESD) commissioner, Suzie LeVine, took to try to get control of the hundreds of millions of state dollars in fraudulent claims. LeVine decided to hold up payments for unemployment claims until steps were taken to verify each claim, rather than make the payments and then reviewing the applications.

Now come the stories of anguish, desperation, and despair from those who first suffered the loss of jobs and now are suffering the loss of what's turning for many to be survival money because of LeVine's fraud-correction strategy.
 
But also now comes Lynn Brewer, who knows a few things about financial shenanigans and malfeasance from her days as an executive at Enron, a name that may ring few memory bells, 20 years on, despite the fact that until its bankruptcy in 2001, it was hailed as "America's most innovative company."
 
Thus when she and her husband's unemployment checks were caught up in the ESD scheme and the resulting scandal still unfolding, she expressed a sense of "I've been here before," with strong indignation in her voice.
 
In her book, "House of Cards: Confessions of an Enron Executive," after her 2001
departure from Enron, she detailed what happened inside the company. And for several years, she as a sought-after national speaker on the topic of corporate integrity.
 
"This is a governance failure of Enron proportions," Brewer said. "From my experience at Enron, I believe there are underlying issues with ESD that have not been revealed to the public by the media."
 
So she has filed a public records request seeking all email contact between Inslee and LeVine and between LeVine and those in her department.
 
"The public records request will tell us what those underlying issues are," Brewer added. "With a corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission would investigate.  But here, it is left to the people to do the investigation."
 
Brewer also said she has "discussed a possible class-action lawsuit with one of the class action law firms involved in the Enron cases and they are assessing that."
 
Lynn BrewerLynn BrewerBrewer told me today that she learned from one of those emailing her that ESD is refusing benefits to those who worked for a church or a nonprofit, which should provide fodder for media questions of the governor.  

Republican Sen. Ann Rivers of Clark County said she has asked Inslee to use Federal CAREs Act dollars to do an audit of the ESD system but has had no response, as with the GOP lawmakers' request for the governor to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with the massive dollar loss.
 
Then Brewer began tweeting her dissatisfaction with the ESD and its lack of communication on the failure of ESD to pay her and her husband's claims. And the victims of ESD's disastrous effort to clean up the fraud issue began emailing their stories of anguish to her.
 
And those now 200 or more stories of pain came flowing in.

So she's been asked by Sen. Curt King, R-Yakima, to send the names to him so the Republican caucus can send the names to each legislator, Republican or Democrat, in whose district the resident denied claims resides.

"I have received emails from those who have not been paid, including people who have had their telephone shut off for non-payment; others who are sleeping in their car; and one who had lost 25 pounds from stress, and many more stories," she said. 

LeVine is a much larger political issue for the governor than a flap with state Republican legislators. She is a prominent Democratic fund-raiser, having raised $2.3 million for Barrack Obama, who appointed her ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein.
 
During the 2020 presidential campaign, she hosted a parade of presidential candidates in what one media organization described as "Salon-style fundraisers at her home in Seattle in her role as deputy finance chair for the Democratic National Committee."
 
Unless you are an extremely courageous chief executive, you withstand any pressure to fire a Suzie LeVine, regardless of her failures and shortcomings, particularly if you are a governor who hopes for a position in a Democratic administration, should Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump in November.
 
Senator Rivers said she is "amazed that the governor is doubling down on LeVine," a concern that Democratic lawmakers may soon if they haven't already quietly done so, be expressing to Inslee.
 
.While Brewer said she voted for Inslee, she has taken the lead as a visible protagonist in the campaign to get rid of LeVine, which could prove more troubling to Inslee than merely facing the criticism of Senate Republican leaders whose criticisms, even when supported by facts, will come across as political.
 
"The EDC snafu is a failure of numerous programs in the State government under his watch and there was a coordination of programs to curtail payments and an effort is being made to keep claimants and voters in the dark," Brewer charged.
 
"Simply, the public needs to know who coordinated this response to cut Washingtonians off from their weekly payments and what did Inslee know and when did he know it?" she said.
 
Continue reading

Shared thoughts and one man's Facebook post on #BlackLives that have mattered

BlackLivesMatter

Before anyone came up with the phrase "Black Lives Matter," I saw it being played out as a way of life for the kids, black, white, and many others, who grew to adulthood in our diverse neighborhood in Seattle's Mount Baker area.
 
And despite watching the protests in cities across the country the past week over the slaying of George Floyd, a black man, by a Minneapolis police officer, I hadn't thought about that long-ago interaction among young people until one of them created a Facebook post this week.
 
But before I get to the moving post by Brett Omri, a Seattle firefighter, I need to offer a little background on the neighborhood, which had been the upper-middle-class area where doctors, attorneys, investment advisors lived. Until the Black unrest in the late '60s lashed Seattle and created fear for those upper-class whites who moved out to safer neighborhoods.  
 
So we and other young couples, white and various minorities, with young children discovered the neighborhood and found prices that were marked down so much by escaping longtime residents that we couldn't pass up living there since we had no problem with mixed race.
 
So our three kids commuted to a mixed-race St. Therese catholic grade school where Michael's focus on athletics immersed him with the talented young minority kids Together, with Michael as the only white boy on the starting five eighth grade boys basketball team, they won the state championship.
 
The parents who followed their basketball-hopeful sons grow from barely capable to state champions knew the amazing change was the handiwork of former Seattle U. basketball star Peller Phillips, an African-American who truly cared about the boys. They came to know he was their friend and he became a friend of all the parents.
 
In track, the team coached by Wayne Melonson, an African-American who would become the principal and whose funeral in 2015 would fill St. James Cathedral (see Flynn's Harp: Wayne Melonson) with mourners of every race, wiped out the completion.  
 
The three young black boys, with Michael, on the 400-meter relay team that won its races against other Seattle catholic school kids, included the young Peller Phillips, who routinely took the baton from Michael. In one meet, Michael stepped on Peller's shoe and it came off and by the time he ran back a couple of steps and kneeled got his shoe back on, the second-place team's runner was within 30 meters. Then Peller took off, and it was over.
 
And the lasting impact his friends had on him was evidenced when Michael came home from his first day of basketball practice at Seattle's Blanchett High School, where blond hair and blue eyes marked the student body, I asked him how it went.
 
He looked at me and said, "I guess ok." "So what's wrong?" I asked. "They all have white boy's disease!" "What's that?" "They can't jump," he replied seriously.

---------
Now to Brett Omri, who grew up on the corner, two houses from ours, with the African-American editor of the Seattle Times in the home between us and the Omris. Across the street were the homes of three African-American families, including the number two executive of the Bellevue School District who raised her family directly across the street from us.
.
Brett is a 45-year-old Seattle firefighter, a friend of my youngest daughter, Eileen.

Here is his Facebook post:
"Black Lives matter to me. Not because it's 'politically correct,' but because I'm selfish. Black Lives have been intimately and beautifully intertwined in the story of my life. Black Lives have run and played with me as a kid. Black lives have both learned with me and educated me. Black Lives have competed and performed with me. Black lives have hung out and broken bread with me. Black Lives have welcomed me into their homes and brought me to church with them. Black Lives have celebrated and mourned with me. Black lives have created with me. Black Lives have lead and worked with me. And sometimes in those moments, Black Lives have been gracious enough to share their stories.

What is happening is not new. What happened to George Floyd has happened thousands of times before. Each incident is woven, painfully, into another family's history; sometimes more than once. I can't claim to grasp the depth of that suffering. I just know that my heart hurts. I can't help but run over the faces of Black Lives that have touched mine and wondered about my loss if their lives had been cut short before they intersected with mine.

Black Lives are our neighbors, teachers, classmates, bosses, coworkers, teammates, coaches, leaders, family, and friends. That's why Black Lives Matter. Black Lives are a part of our lives. Why do Black Lives have to keep reminding us of that? How sad is it that Black Lives need to plead to the rest of us that they simply "matter." And that our response is to get cute with a hashtag that invalidates their pain. So, yes, this is my line in the sand. If you can't bring yourself to say, at the very least, Black Lives Matter then I don't think I have anything more to say to you.
The destruction that is occurring as I write this is a consequence of a dream that has been deferred indefinitely. This is our fault. We don't seem to take notice of anything else and then have the audacity to judge when the pain, sorrow, and rage boil over. It is the cruelest form of gaslighting I can imagine. When Black Lives marched, we released the dogs and fire hoses. When Black Lives stood up, we cut them down. When Black Lives kneeled, we called them un-American. What is there left to do but rage?

To the Black Lives that have touched mine - you have my undying support and love. You have made me a better human being and opened my eyes to so many things. I wouldn't be me without your influence, friendship, and love. I am at a loss of how to help ease the pain you are experiencing, likely because I can't. Please, just know that I see you. #BlackLivesMatterToMe."
Continue reading

Seattle, Bellevue officials prepared for peaceful protests, not "American ISIS"

king5_Bellevue_NationalGaurd_2020
Police and elected officials in Seattle and Bellevue were prepared for a weekend of peaceful protests that had the laudable purpose of raising awareness about the "murder" of a black man by a white policeman in Minneapolis. But they were unprepared for the accompanying rioting and mayhem guided by what could come to be described as an American ISIS of white thugs, self-named Antifa, bent on revolution.

But the fact is the mayor and police chiefs in both cities were warned in advance that the creators of a strategy of destruction were coming in under the cover of the peaceful demonstrators.

In fact, one Antifa social-media message Sunday left the strong implication that the group had intended to take their destruction into suburban neighborhoods in Bellevue.

And now the officials in both cities will be pressed to explain to both business communities whose members will be assessing the extent of the damage, much of it dramatic, the inadequacy of police response but more importantly to create a strategy for the future.

Meanwhile, President Trump is, with apparent accuracy, blaming Antifa for much of the destruction in American cities across the country, while facing pushback from his opponents for his desire to officially declare them a terrorist group.

For those unaware, Antfa is described by the New York Times as being organized in "local autonomous cells around the country," adding that "though it is said to lack official leaders, it does have operatives who move across the country making mayhem."

And for those who might be tempted to pooh-pooh this information about Antifa leadership, here's a tweet that went out Sunday early afternoon:

"Alert. Tonight's the night comrades. Tonight we say 'f--- the city' and we move to the residential areas...the white hoods. And we take what's ours."

The tweet was retweeted 289 times and had 33 likes.

The Trump Justice Department has quickly branded Antifa a domestic terrorist group with a press release from Attorney General Bill Barr saying, "the violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly."

And Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz, a Democrat, acknowledged Saturday at a press conference: "The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd. It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear, and disrupting our great cities."

ISIS is the powerful, best known terrorist militant group in the world so when Bellevue business leader Michael Nassirian, attached the ISIS name to the mayhem, he may have set an appropriate stage for future planning on preparing for demonstrations and accompanying unrest.

Nassirian, an Iranian who became a top Microsoft executive before retiring to become an investor and leader in the Bellevue business community, gained some recent attention in the battle to help bring the economy back from its impact by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nassirian contracted COVID-19 and was bedridden for almost a week and soon set about seeking to create an app to provide employers and employees and customers current information before they interact, a step to aide re-opening the economy. He has named it "My Immunity Pass."

There has been considerable criticism starting to occur about the inability of the police in either city to avert or diminish the extent of the damage given the fact they had advance information.
And maybe particularly toward Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett spending more than half an hour visiting with the legitimate demonstrators while the thugs wreaked havoc inside Bellevue Square.

Nassirian, after being among business leaders who toured Bellevue Square and the Bravern Monday morning to assess the extensive damage, was quick to point out the those bent on mayhem were "well organized, well-funded, and had a solid communications infrastructure."
"Now isn't the time to point fingers to find blame but rather to commit to come together as a community and prepare for any such thing in the future," Nassirian said.

And it could happen that as Trump seeks to put together a full-fledged Justice Department effort to go after Antifa as a terrorist organization and withstand pushback from the inevitable concerns about privacy invasions, being able to use Nassirian's American ISIS brand could be a major asset.

Because officials in cities across the country are likely to understand that Antifa is as it seems to be, this weekend rioting and destruction won't be its last appearance.
Continue reading

(Part 2/2) Reflecting on little-noted anniversary of Saigon's fall, Vietnam War

galloway2

(This is the second of two columns relating to the 45th anniversary of the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, that brought an end to the Vietnam War.)
 
As Joe Galloway shared with me his reflections of the horror and heroism in the Ia Drang Valley in 1965 that his book and the movie that followed helped make unforgettable, he talked of the medals and commendations that followed and it struck me the place perhaps should be remembered as The Valley of Valor.
 
Bruce CrandallBruce CrandallThe memories flowed out after I asked Galloway, who became one of the most respected correspondents who covered Vietnam, to share his thoughts with me as we marked, 45th anniversary of the fall of Saigon.
 
Those memories included the deeds of Bruce Crandall, now a Port Orchard resident, who was a hero of the battle and became Galloway's lifetime friend. In fact, Crandall was one of the interviewees when Galloway came to Seattle a few years ago for a week-long series of interviews that he conducted at KCPQ-TV studios.  

Major Crandall, then 32, led the 16 helicopters that transported troops to the Ia Drang battle zone. Then he and his wingman, Ed "Too Tall" Freeman, kept their Hueys returning, almost 20 times, to resupply and remove the wounded, recovering 75 casualties, and finally flying them out.  
 
Both were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for their valor at Ia Drang, but it was more than 40 years before these were upgraded to the Medals of Honor. Paperwork delays are described as the reason it took so long for the Medal to be awarded.
 
But it's pretty likely that Galloway's book "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young," co-written by the commanding officer of the Ia Drang troops, and the movie made from it played a role in their eventual recognition.  
 
Galloway noted that there were actually three Medals of Honor, the first to Second Lt. Walter Joseph (Joe) Marm, who was 24, like Joe. He was honored for
single-handedly destroying an enemy machine-gun position and several of its defenders while suffering severe wounds in the process. Marm was awarded the Medal of Honor a year after the battle  

Hal Moore, the then-lieutenant colonel who was commander of the U.S. Army forces at Ia Drang and who co-authored two books on the battle with Galloway, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the nation's second-highest honor.
 
And Galloway himself, who rescued a wounded soldier under fire, was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with "V" for valor. Galloway proudly noted in his email to me last week: "the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division and Gen. Moore personally pinned the Bronze Star Medal on my chest in front of a Standing Room Only audience of cheering troops in June 1998."
 
Explaining the valor that permeated that valley in the four days of fighting, Galloway noted: "quite a number of medal-worthy actions were never recognized because so many men were wounded and evacuated and so many others were at the end of their tours as draftees and rotated home."
 
As an intriguing sidelight, Galloway shared that "During the Clinton Administration, Moore and I worked to have Congress pass a bill opening the window for submission of duly drawn and recommended upgrades and awards of medals of valor. We originally intended to bypass statute of limitations for Ia Drang veterans only but Congress opened the window for ALL veterans ALL wars and left it open."

The UPI correspondent who welcomed Galloway to Vietnam and showed him then ropes was Ray Herndon, who joined UPI in early 1962 when he was also 24, and covered the final days of the Laos War before moving to Vietnam in 1963.

Herndon made his name as one of the "Boys of Saigon," a small cadre of journalists who chronicled the rebellion by Buddhist clergy against the authoritarian South Vietnamese regime, and America's increasing - though officially unacknowledged - military involvement in the region.
 
When Herndon first arrived, he was covering Kennedy's War, but as he recalled for me his thoughts for a column I did with him a decade ago, "I was here for the event that turned Kennedy's Vietnam involvement into Lyndon Johnson's war."

That event in early August of 1964 became known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, what the Johnson administration described as a sea clash between two U.S. destroyers and several North Vietnamese PT boats. It became the device that paved the way for the U.S. to begin sending combat troops to Vietnam.

Ray HerndonRay HerndonHerndon, who died of cancer in 2015 at the age of 77, was two years into a five-year stint covering Vietnam when the Tonkin Gulf incident occurred. He recalled that "there was a great deal of skepticism among the press corps in Saigon about the incident. The North Vietnamese were not stupid and it never made sense that they would attack a vastly superior naval force without provocation."

In fact, history would show that the incident likely never happened, at least as it was portrayed to serve Johnson's intended goal of certain Congressional support.


There was indeed little skepticism about it in Congress, where the resolution was approved with only two senators, Ernest Gruening of Alaska and Wayne Morse of Oregon, voting against it. That gave Johnson carte blanche to commit the American military to war in Vietnam.


Herndon was part of the string of the best and the brightest of reporters who spent time covering the Vietnam War.


When we visited, he was a couple of years away from the news business, having retired from the Los Angeles Times, he retained the honed skills of observation and perspective.


So when I asked Herndon about what he considered parallels or similarities between Vietnam and Afghanistan conflicts, which was then in much greater public prominence then it is now, this was his response:

"We really seem to have a knack for picking some terrible places to fight wars. Both Vietnam and Afghanistan have long and proud histories of tirelessly fighting to expel foreign armies. And winning."
 
Herndon, who followed his UPI tenure with editor roles in Florida, Dallas, and Los Angeles before retiring, noted that the Vietnamese fought against the Chinese for a thousand years, then defeated their French colonial occupiers before the U.S. made its own unsuccessful attempt."

"Afghanistan, for its part, was the first and only country that Alexander the Great couldn't conquer," Herndon said. "And Imperial Britain, which easily gobbled up the combined territory of India and Pakistan next door, somehow couldn't defeat the much smaller Afghanistan. And it wasn't for lack of trying."
Continue reading

(Part 1 of 2) Reflecting on a Vietnam anniversary that apparently mattered little, except to a few

galloway2

The 45th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and thus the end of the Vietnam War might have passed without note this week regardless of the impact of COVID-19. No gatherings were planned that had to be canceled. No celebrations. No special remembrances.  
 
But the anniversary has been on my mind in the past few months, as I'm sure it has been on the minds of others, like the ones who fought there or whose fathers, sons, brothers or children are among the 58,320 names of the dead on the wall in Washington, D.C.
 
galloway seattleJoe Galloway
So why mark the 45th anniversary rather than the 50th? Because it's important to remember now since in another five years, hundreds of the remaining Vietnam veterans who deserve to be celebrated, as anniversaries provide the opportunity to do, won't be here.
 
For recollections in recognition of the anniversary, I reached out to Joe Galloway, whom readers of this column may recall I've written about half a dozen times over the past few years. He was one of the most prominent correspondents of the Vietnam War, serving four tours with United Press International over the decade from 1965, arriving as a 23-year-old, to 1975.
 
In addition to sharing his thought in emails we traded,  Galloway agreed to do an interview Wednesday with me and a television-personality friend from New England, Danielle (Dani) Rocco, with whom I do interviews. The link is at the bottom of this column.
 
For Galloway, this was to be the final year of a seven-year odyssey under special assignment with the Defense Department to do interviews with veterans of the war to preserve their memories with "the body of material for future generations who want to know what this war was all about." Two of my columns on him related to his two visits to Seattle for his interviews.
 
But the impact of the virus has put his travels on hold, as have all DoD travels been put on hold, he told me.
 
He'll soon be promoting his new book, his third on the war and the soldiers who fought in it. "They Were Soldiers," to be published May 12 by Nelson Books, is a co-authored look at the private lives of those who returned from Vietnam to make "astonishing" contributions in science, medicine, business, and other areas, "changing America for the better."
 
His first book, "We Were Soldiers Once and Young," was a chronicle of the battle of Ia Drang in November of 1965 that was the first battle between U.S. forces and the army of North Vietnam, and for many historians remembered as the defining battle of the war.

Galloway later described Ia Drang as "the battle that convinced Ho Chi Minh he could win," despite the fact that close to 2,000 North Vietnamese troops died in the four days of fighting.
 
And in vivid descriptions, writing articles about the battle later, Galloway wrote: "What happened there, in the Ia Drang Valley sounded alarm bells in the Johnson White House and the Pentagon as they tallied the American losses-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."

That book, published in 1992 and co-authored with Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, who as a Lieutenant Colonel was the commanding officer in the battle and who became Galloway's lifelong friend, became a well-received movie, "We Were Soldiers."  
 
Ia Drang was near the end of Galloway's first year covering the war. As we now prepare to mark the 45th anniversary April 30, I asked Galloway in an email to recall his decade in Vietnam that as well as the end of the conflict.

"I was in Bangkok covering the arrival of foreigners expelled from Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge from the French Embassy when Saigon fell.
 
"For me, it marked the end of 10 years of intimate involvement with the Vietnam War -- from spring of 1965 to spring of 1975. I was deeply saddened by the abandonment of our South Vietnamese allies.
 
"I made five trips back to Vietnam after the war ended," Galloway said.
 
"Interviewed North Vietnamese Senior General Vo Nguyen Giap three times for our books. Traveled back to the old Ia Drang battlefields in company with the North Viet Army commanders who had done their damndest to kill us all there.
 
"Now we found ourselves friends of a sort; blood brothers of a sort. We had shed each other's blood in large quantities but now we would stand together in a circle, our arms over each other's shoulders, and say a prayer for the souls of ALL the brave young men who had died, who had killed each other, on that blood-drenched red dirt."
 
joeGallowayinVietnamGalloway in VietnamOther American veterans of Ia Drang were there, too, for the remarkable meetings with their old enemies and for a haunting visit to the place the Vietnamese called "The Forest of the Screaming Souls."
 
The meetings with their old foes stunned the Americans, who hadn't known what to expect. They were warmly welcomed as they exchanged detailed memories of those horrific days in 1965.  
 
On an impulse, Moore gave his inexpensive wristwatch to General Giap, and recalled for an interviewer: "Giap held the watch in both his hands, looking at it with amazement, as tears gathered in his eyes and mine. Then he turned and clutched me to him in a full embrace. It was my turn to be stunned as this former enemy - arguably one of the greatest military commanders of the twentieth century - held me like a son in his arms for a long moment."
 
Galloway and Moore wrote of the return to Ia Drang with their former enemies in "We Are Soldiers Still. A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam," published in 2008

Moore died three years ago at the age of 94.
 
Here is the link to the interview with Galloway
 
(Tomorrow: Recalling the column I wrote on another former UPI colleague who served as correspondents in Vietnam and introduced Joe around when he first arrived. And about the helicopter pilot, now a resident of Kitsap County, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for the role he played in helping Moore and his troops at Ia Drang.)
 

Continue reading

National Parks closures pose challenges for the future of youth-focused NatureBridge

yosemite_banner Yosemite National Park is just one of the places that NatureBridge takes over 35,000 kids to learn each year.

The arrival of National Parks Week in the midst of COVID-19 closure of most national parks is a sad reminder for those who enjoy nature and the wilderness. But for an organization focused on the parks as learning centers for young people the closure poses a concern for what the future holds.
 
The organization is NatureBridge, a nonprofit that brings kids to national parks to spend days learning about science and the environment as they discover the pleasure of the outdoors while spending time with other young people.  
 
Closure of the parks means the organization's programs that bring 35,000 kids, mostly ages 12 to 16, to Yosemite and Golden Gate in California, Olympic in Washington State, and Prince William Forest Park near Washington, D.C.
 
Robert Holmes, a NatureBridge board member for whom the call of the wild has been a lifetime personal counterpoint to his role as a developer of both real estate and resort projects across North America, sees the closure as a "crisis."
 
A year ago the organization was preparing for its early May annual fund-raiser at the Iconic Bentley Reserve in San Francisco's Financial District where 300 attendees would spend "An Evening with NatureBridge."

The event brought people together to celebrate another year of cultivating the next generation of environmental stewards and raised $650,000.  
 
This year's event in early May in San Francisco has been canceled. And while the website calls visitors to "raise a paddle" for virtual donations, no one knows how much will be raised from would-be attendees, sponsors and supporters to avert what Holmes says is a looming revenue hole.
 
"In addition to the fact that  35,000 not 13,000 kids don't get to experience their national parks this year, our nonprofit will experience $5 million in lost revenue and significant staff reductions," Holmes said. "We, like so many others, are in crisis, which threatens NatureBridge's ability to continue its mission on the other side of this pandemic."
 
Holmes recognizes that the crisis facing NatureBridge is no different than that facing a myriad of other organizations and non-profits whose fund-raising events have been canceled or put on hold across the region and the country.
 
But Holmes, CEO of THG LLC (The Holmes Group) in Bellevue, has made a personal commitment to help make sure (if he can) that NatureBridge will be back to prepare for its 50th anniversary year in 2021.
 
In an email to friends and associates this past week, Holmes said "NatureBridge needs to survive this - for our parks, for our planet and, most importantly, for our kids. To that end, I am matching all donations (up to $25,000) made to NatureBridge before June 30."
 
And Holmes said there will be a video interview with Dr. Nooshin Razani, a NatureBridge alum who is now an infectious disease specialist in Oakland and the video is likely to accompanied by an ask, as has become the virtual substitute for an actual fund-raising gathering for a host of organization.
 
The students NatureBridge reaches usually apply through science teacher though in some cases whole classes attend or, as Holmes noted, "in some cases, like Cupertino, all the students from the school attend."
 
For those whose parents can't pay, students can get scholarships and financial support through NatureBridge,
 
This was not meant to be a column about Holmes. It's about his cause for which he has stepped into the breach to see if through the dollars he generates, along with other board members and their supporters, they can save the future for Nature Bridge.
 
But inevitably, a cause is judged, in part, by the quality and influence of its supporters.
Holmes' many involvements and adventures in the wilderness likely have played a role in some of his resort development efforts in addition to his commitment to NatureBridge.
 
He's made parachuting the sky-high part of his outdoors experience and focus since he helped create a parachute club as a freshman at Central Washington University and he recalls "we often jumped into college games and events."
 
Since then he has done "1,200 or so jumps," including tricky, multi-person jumps of up to 10 people that have led to skydiver performance awards and recognition.
 
"As a skydiver, I created wilderness jumps, including jumps into Mount Jefferson and then Mount Washington," Holmes recalled, adding "at the grand opening of the Inn at 7th Mountain in Bend, three of us parachuted in and that evening I met Lute Jerstad, who had climbed Mount Everest with Willi Unsoeld."
 
He says the jump into Mountain Jefferson and the climb that followed is what hooked him on mountaineering so he signed up for Jerstad's climbing school, But a climb on the north face of Mount Stewart came close to costing him his life as he fell about 80 feet and landed on a ledge, breaking his back. He spent 24 hours on the ledge before being rescued.
 
As to his business roles, before shifting to Bellevue where his projects have included Kemper Freeman's Bellevue Collection, Holmes was president and CEO of Intrawest USA and president and CEO of Harbor Properties in Seattle.  
 
In his resort projects, he has guided the development of the Village at Mammoth, Schweitzer Mountain Resort and the Village at Whistler.
 
As to the future, Holmes told me "We will be successful and will come back. The cause and the kids are too important." CLICK HERE to learn more and help NatureBridge help the children.

Continue reading

Planning to Celebrate Young Leaders Emerging From Crisis as a New Kind of Outlier

Alicia_Iorio_Banner

It may seem strange to now begin planning for a fall awards event for rising young business executives in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that, as one young associate in this effort put it, "is leading people to care less and less about things that aren't meaningful."
 
In this case, the honoring event I am helping put together happens to be the 21st annual San Diego 40-Under-40 gathering that last October became a two-county event celebrating the young professionals from both San Diego and Orange Counties.
 
But Bob Page, my 84-year-old friend, former boss at UPI and a long-time publisher of major daily newspapers and later Southern California weeklies, perceives that the young leaders who emerge from this frightening and challenging time will be outliers of a new kind.
 
As the owner of a business magazine called SD Metro that owns the San Diego 40-under-40 event, Page each year has presided at the Chairman's Luncheon where the honorees are introduced.
 
As Alicia Iorio, a 33-year-old fast-rising executive and one of the 40-under-40 honorees at the 20th annual luncheon, put it to me: "The young leaders who emerge will be those who combined success and sacrifice in a model that will become the new order. And in doing so we begin to set a new standard."

"Crises reveal the core, either good or bad, bringing forth those people and companies whose highest priorities and deeply held beliefs that represent their driving force will rise to the fore and become the new basis for recognition," she added.
 
"It needs to become how much did you care and what did you give even while continuing to have one eye on business success?" she added,
 
"Given those thoughts. you're going to be on the team, as a past honoree, putting this together," I told her.
 
Her summation of what we want this event to become as we emerge, or begin to emerge, from this crisis can be applicable to the array of 40-Under-40 events around the country, including Seattle, where success has been measured on the business achievements of the young executive.
 
In fact, it was because the Seattle 40-Under-40, created in 1999 by my son, Michael, for Eastside Business Journal and then taken over by Puget Sound Business Journal to present thereafter that Page, whose event was born that same year, asked me to help with the 2019 event.
 
So virtually every event, ranging across the spectrum from business to sports to non-profit fundraisers or community events has been canceled or postponed so that crowds are not induced to gather, particularly at a time when there might seem little to celebrate but life itself.
 
But I concluded the effort on behalf of this event, which at its 20th anniversary last October 1 in San Diego had become a San Diego-Orange County one, was a story worth sharing because my young business associate, Alicia, suggested it was an important initiative, because of this environment in particular.
 
So I decided to write about a Southern California event in a column whose readers are mostly in the Seattle area and the Northwest because the idea of a new rationale for what kind of young leaders should be honored merits consideration in every region.
 
And the 40-Under-40 event, because it's held in most every important metro area in the country, may be the most logical place to begin honoring the new breed of business outlier as the passing of the virus allows resumption of most such events, hopefully with many seeking new models.
 
I view Iorio as an example of the new model. After she spent more than a decade in corporate accounting and financial consulting, she turned to healthcare and is now president of CBMD, which she describes as a "physician-backed, medical-grade" CBD company.
 
In addition, she is responsible for community outreach for OC Hospice. She also serves as chair of OC Gift of Life, a worldwide bone marrow registry seeking to provide patients battling blood cancer with a second chance.
 
Because I need to contact her on occasion as this 40-under-40 effort takes shape, I've been struck by how often she texts me "I'll have to get back to you later. I'm with a patient at the hospital right now."
 
So it may come to be that the virus passes and the 40-Under-40 event can be held in the fall and when Page stands before the audience at the Chairman's Luncheon, it will be an honoring of those young executives whose rite of passage was a litany of caring and concern and community, not merely a financial success.

Continue reading

52°F

Seattle

Mostly Cloudy

Humidity: 63%

Wind: 14 mph

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