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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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"
 

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

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

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

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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.
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IRS needs strong pushback on PPP loans ruling

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Congress, our delegation taking the lead, needs to push back IRS on PPP loans

Many would argue that the Internal Revenue Service will screw the taxpayer whenever it means the tax agency can take in more money for its actions. But in the midst of the coronavirus and the CARES act tax treatment of loans designed by Congress to help businesses survive?

Seems so, according to information my Seattle accountant, Mark Long, distributed to his clients this week, following up on information sent out a few days ago by Bloomberg News Service and other business-information sites.

His email memo said that last week, the IRS issued an order "which substantially changes the tax treatment of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan program."

Long, of The Myers Associates, noted "the CARES Act explicitly states that the forgiveness of the loan is NOT taxable income."

"The IRS has concluded that while the forgiveness is not taxable income, the qualifying expenses (payroll, employee benefits, rent, etc.) will be non-deductible," Long said.  "The IRS Notice, therefore, does effectively make the forgiveness taxable income."

So the goal of discussing the issue here is that members of both the House and the Senate need to be pressed to push the IRS away from the table, in essence by nullifying the agency's decision, ideally in a high-visibility push back. The more public scrutiny and outcry on this the better.

And this state's Senators and members of Congress should be pressed to be in the forefront, and not with deliberative pace, but quickly.

PPP was established under the CARES Act. Operated by the Small Business Administration (SBA), it provides cash for two months of payroll costs. The measure, enacted by Congress in March, allows recipients to use the proceeds for payroll costs, employee healthcare benefits, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, utilities, and interest on any other debt. The loans do not have to be repaid if employers keep workers on the job or rehire laid-off workers.  

While the measure said the loan is not subject to taxes, it failed to let companies know whether they could still write off the expenses they covered with that money. In any other circumstance, IRS regulations allow companies to write off business expenses, such as wages, rent, and transportation expenses. The clarification adds the latest wrinkle, the news service noted.

It's a big difference," Long told me in an email. "And the biggest problem is that you have to make business decisions with minimal info.  If you want people to spend the entire PPP loan, then that's different than them spending part and holding part back to cover taxes."

The IRS Notice "is substantially different than all of the initial information released about the PPP program, and from what we have read, it is also contrary to the intent of the CARES Act legislation," Long added.  

At this time, it is unclear whether the IRS position will remain as stated in the Notice or if the Notice will be reversed.  It is also possible that a legislative fix is introduced.  However, it's quite possible this may not occur until after your 8-week loan forgiveness period is over."

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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.

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CARES economic stimulus - Opportunities in addition to survival

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Out of the potential economic disaster, there may be a fortuitous convergence of the two-year-old Tax Cuts & Jobs Act with its role of stimulating the economy and the coronavirus-spurred CARES Act with its role of saving the economy.
 
"Opportunity" was the keyword for one of the most interesting provisions in the massive tax cut measure of 2017, a section providing for what was named Qualified Opportunity Zones. The QOZ, as they are known, are a device basically intended to allow the wealthy to defer capital gains if used to help the poor and create jobs.
 
ralph IbarraRalph IbarraCARES, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, opens the door to several interesting opportunities in addition to its basic focus on getting survival funds and loans to businesses. Opening the door to QOZ businesses would merely be a creative byproduct.

The possibility of a fortuitous convergence of two legislative packages, one borne of a surging economy and the other of an economy threatening to sink to a 90-year low point, provided a sign of hope for some who have been focused on Opportunity Zones since the tax-cut legislation was passed.
 
Basically the QOZ provision allowed temporary deferral of capital gains that are reinvested in geographic areas in each state designated as Qualified Opportunity Zones. Those are census tracts, selected in each state by the governors but they needed to include economically distressed communities. In other words, job-creating investment opportunities.
 
The key opportunity the CARES Act is meant to provide is billions of dollars in various categories to help small and mid-sized businesses survive and begin moving back toward where they were before.
 
But without distracting from that key goal, there are other opportunities that could improve the fortunes of some businesses when the economy is restored or is moving toward being restored.
 
And one is the kind of businesses the Opportunity Zones were designed to spur into existence and provide growth with capital gains millions.
 
The opportunity to use those capital gains benefits of individual taxpayers in "partnership" with the federal dollars in the CARES Act to restore economic viability for small businesses in areas that will have a harder time coming back is an energizing concept.
 
Particularly that's true for businesses in smaller and mid-sized cities who fear they will be left out of the federal stimulus dollars distribution or short-changed.
 
My longtime friend Ralph Ibarra, a fan of the Opportunity Zones idea from the outset who has delved deep into the details of the tax-break legislation in his Diverse America consulting business, says he felt it was a "golden opportunity" to provide a chance for investor dollars to work with federal dollars.
 
"QOZ Fund investments in small business concerns can be amplified with the provisions contained within the CARES Act," Ibarra suggested.
 
The CARES Act focus also represents a significant opportunity for innovative banks to build relations with small businesses by reaching beyond their roster of clients, but for some reason, many banks aren't doing that.
 
"Unfortunately, not all banks are broadly offering these loans," said Mark Mason, CEO of Seattle-based HomeStreet Bank.
 
"Many banks are limiting applications to current customers or to certain-sized customers and while we are prioritizing our customers, as you would expect, ultimately we expect to help non-customers as well," Mason said.
 
As Ibarra observed when we discussed banks using the funds for business development, "when banks show themselves as human, they make customers for life."
 
Another opportunity that could emerge beyond survival is the CARES dollars that can assist the little-known small business development centers (SBDC) to build relationships with the small businesses that have been supposed to be their target.
 
CARES provides $240 million for the SBDCs, an arm of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), to create the engagement with small businesses that have only been marginal at best.
 
The Washington SBDC, a member of the national SBDC program, is a network of nearly three dozen expert business advisors in nearly three dozen communities across this state located in places like chambers of commerce or port districts.
 
The state SBDC network is governed by a cooperative agreement between Washington State University, which is the statewide host of the program on its Spokane campus, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
 
Recovering from this economic crisis could bring with it, for small business, the SBDC services of helping small-business owners and entrepreneurs start, grow and transition their businesses that have been sadly outside the radar screen in the past.
 
Conrad Lee, the Bellevue city council member and former mayor who was SBA regional administrator from 2002-2004, told me "many businesses don't know how to access the funds."
 
Noting that not all banks are SBA lenders, he said SBA must work with all banks to assist small businesses to access the money and help.
 
"The one objective must be to help business survive,".Lee said.

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

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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.

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Spokane Journal Icon John Stone followed the 'right path' to development success

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Some people are born into wealth and riches and others achieve them by ingenuity and hard work, often with a touch of luck thrown in. John Stone, who created a series of high-visibility businesses across the Northwest, might chuckle at the suggestion that he had it both ways.
 
He was born into the "wealth" of the St. Aloysius neighborhood in Spokane where the mom's kept track of all the kids and grabbed them by the collar if they were acting up and gave them a smile or hug when they did well. For those who went to St Aloysius Grade School, the Holy Names nuns knew well both the collar grab and the smile.
 
John StoneJohn StoneWhen my mom died in 2004, John sent me a note after sitting quietly in the back of the church for her service to tell me that she had been one of the "angel moms" who kept him from straying very far from the right path.
 
The "right path" took Stone, who turns 77 next month, on a path from Boeing computer systems to his own computer service firm, a multi-state mini-storage company, then in the early '90s, he entered the multifamily and senior housing segment of the real estate industry. Stone developed luxury apartment projects in San Diego, Seattle, and Portland, in addition to Spokane, then independent living assisted living and Alzheimer's facilities.
 
He was to be honored this week by the Spokane Journal of Business at its Icons event, the publication's annual celebration of Inland Northwest business pioneers and innovators. I was to introduce him at the luncheon event.
 
But like all events scheduled during this virus-impacted time, the event was canceled but the Journal of Business produced a special supplement on the Icons of 2020 in this week's issue.
 
When I asked publisher Paul Read about his sense of why Stone deserved the honor, he replied: 

"John Stone's legacy as a business Icon in our region will be marked by his bold vision for what real estate development could and should look like, his willingness to take risks where others wouldn't, his courage and tenacity to speak his mind on civic issues, and his humble philanthropic spirit."
 
Developments in Coeur d'Alene and Kirkland, WA, particularly will carry Stone's development imprint far into the future.
 
The first is Riverstone Development, which began in 1999 when Stone saw the opportunity to turn an old sawmill at the northwest edge of Coeur d'Alene into something special. He purchased the 155-acre site and turned it into a lifestyle center, a "town within a town" to provide its residents with restaurants and shops.
 
Stone purchased the property in 1999 and built his live, work, play concept in phases. It gained traction among retailers and residents, but as the Great Recession hit, tenants moved out, threatening the future of the Village at Riverstone.
 
A year later, with developer friends, he created Stone Rivard and McGonigle, Development, LLC, which has become one of the larger developers on the West Coast.

As the economy bounced back, so did Stone's determination to continue with his dream project. Tenants began signing leases again as Coeur d'Alene's population grew.  
 
Now, the project is fully developed and recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. What was one a sawmill has become the gateway to Coeur d'Alene.
 
The second development, one that had an impact on the entire state, was negotiating the deal to build the new Google facility in Kirkland that paved the way for Google to begin bringing thousands of employees to this state in 2004.

Had the Icon event occurred this week and I had the chance to introduce Stone, I would have spent a bit of time sharing little-known details about him that provided evidence of the fact he completes what he sets his mind to.

That's a reference to Stone's decision to compete in Ironman triathlon events.

It was in the late 2000s that Stone explained to me that "I looked in the mirror and said 'you are getting to be a fat slob and you are going to run an ironman and have six months to get ready.'"
So six months later, at the age of 63, he competed in a half ironman in Carlsbad, CA, and a year later he ran a full ironman triathlon in Coeur d'Alene. Two years later, he did the Ironman Canada.
 
Throughout his career, Stone, who graduated from Gonzaga U in 1967, has remained closely tied to his alma mater as a member of the GU Board of Trustees and a member of the board of regents. Stone also was involved in the fundraising for the 6,000 seats McCarthey Center Basketball Arena on the Gonzaga campus.
 
He once shared with me that he got his first line of credit as a result of his GU ties. That was credit from Jack Stockton, co-owner of Jack and Dan's Tavern where the students and grads hung out. He took that early financial lesson far.
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Boeing board faces questions - What lies ahead? How about coming home?

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Were it not for the trauma the coronavirus is visiting on this region, the travails of Boeing's effort to restore the lost luster that made it the model for corporate success and community treasure would likely be the subject of negative conversation wherever community leaders gather.
 
Now David Calhoun, new to the Boeing CEO role but a decade on the board during which the crises within the company were being spawned with no sense the board saw anything to question now-ousted CEO Dennis Muilenburg about, is seeking to right the ship.
 
As if to prove that the board had no sense of anything amiss until the two 737 Max crashes and the challenges that have dogged the company since then, Calhoun admitted, in an interview two months after he took the reins, that things inside the company were worse than he had thought.
 
"It's more than I imagine it would be, honestly," Calhoun said, adding "it speaks to the weakness of our leadership," an indictment aimed at ousted CEO Muilenberg.  

But there are some who would suggest it might logically apply to the board. Part of a board's responsibility, after all, is being accountable to the public for the quality of services and goods delivered.
 
It's quite likely that the congressional report that scored "a culture of concealment" and "grossly insufficient oversight" was referring to more than the executives who ran the company.
 
I recall when I first heard that Boeing charged its airline customers an additional amount for installing devices that would ensure greater safety of its products, my first thought was "the board needs to determine if that's true and, if it is, simply say 'don't do that anymore."
 
But some will protest, "boards don't do that!" Tell me about it.
 
So if you haven't, it's worth looking at the board whose job it is to protect the traveling public and the customers who fly them, no less a responsibility than overseeing shareholder profits.
 
It's definitely a board that could compete admirably with other boards in "the fame game."
 
First, there is (The) Caroline Kennedy, who most recently served as ambassador to Japan, and former South Carolina governor and U.N. representative Nikki Haley.
 
The board has military star power. Adm. John Richardson was appointed to the board last year after completing a four-year term as Chief of Naval Operations, and Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr. former vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, is completing a decade on the board.

Board chair is Lawrence Kellner, former chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines, who has been on the board since 2011

Other board members were company chairman and CEOs, Robert Bradway at Amgen, Arthur Collins Jr. at Medtroni, Ron Williams at Aetna and Ed Liddy at Allstate president and CEO, as Lynn Good at Duke Energy and Mike S. Zafirovski, at Nortel. Susan Schwab.  
 
Professor at the University of Maryland school of public policy and the former US. Trade representative, named last year fills out the board.
 
All seem capable of more innovative action than just to name one of their own as CEO.

The fact is, the Boeing that was created in Seattle in 1916 by William Boeing and grew to become one of the most successful and admired companies in America hasn't been the same since it moved to Chicago a week before 9-11. Bean counters, represented by Harry Stonecipher who as president and CEO of McDonnell Douglas orchestrated the merger of the two companies and replaced ousted Phil Condit, took control of Boeing in 2003.

In fairness, a defense-department procurement scandal that eventually led to Condit's resignation, among other embarrassments to the company, began when Boeing was still a Seattle-based company and only exploded after the move to Chicago.

Hard to know whether the culture might have continued in Chicago if Alan Mulally, then president of Boeing Commercial, where the airplanes were made, had been named Boing CEO, which he had expected when Condit was replaced. So instead he went to Ford two years later and worked his engineering-leadership magic for a car company.

Nevertheless, what would be the reaction if that Boeing board decided on a dramatic move to prove the board members wanted a different culture and opted to return the company to its Seattle roots?

The culture shifted when the years passed with the corporate executives 2,000 miles distant from the place where the culture of Boeing's largest unit, commercial airplanes, was nurtured or diminished.

Given the corporate presence that has emerged here in the past two decades, not only in homegrown companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Expedia but expansions here by the likes of Google, a move home by Boeing could not only carry shareholder logic. It could also send a message to customers, lawmakers and employees about the desire to restore the culture and integrity that seems to have waned.

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PART 2 - A Decade of the most memorable Harps

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(This is the second of two articles in which I am offering readers of The Harp a reprise of the stories from the past decade that were most memorable to me, some of which got little in the way of broad visibility but all of which got repeated visibility here for reasons that will become obvious.)


The story that was my personal favorite was actually several Harps relating to my friend Joseph L. (Joe) Galloway, one of the best-known correspondents of the Vietnam War, who has been on the road much of the past decade doing interviews with veterans of that conflict to preserve their memories.

The interviews by Galloway have been part of the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration to honor those who fought in that war but were never thanked when they returned to a divided nation.
 
Galloway's travels to do the interviews, mostly about two hours in length and which he told me now number about 400, embody his commitment to producing the "the body of material for future generations who want to know what this war was all about."  
 
The formal launch of the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration was on Memorial Day of 2012 and since 2013 Joseph L. (Joe) Galloway, one of the best-known correspondents of that war, has been on the road doing interviews with veterans of that conflict to preserve their memories.

Galloway, a reporter assigned by United Press International to cover the war, was selected by the Defense Department unit charged with administering the program to do the interviews to preserve for future generations.

Galloway, decorated for battlefield heroism at the Battle of Ia Drang in November of 1965 where he was the only correspondent and joked to me that he turned in his camera and took a machine gun, spent a week doing interviews in Seattle in the spring of 2015. I had urged him to come to Seattle for a round of interviews and found KCPQ TV willing to make its studios available for his interviews. He returned to Seattle for another round of interviews two years later.

I've written several columns on Galloway and his Vietnam interviews, partly because we were UPI colleagues (he in war zones and I as a political writer and later a Pacific Coast executive for the company). But in a broader sense because of a fascination with his perspectives on the war in articles and speeches, and the import of the battle in the Ia Drang Valley that Galloway and the late Gen. Hal Moore, then a lieutenant colonel in command of the U.S. Army forces in that battle, made famous in their book and a subsequent movie.

The battle became the subject of Galloway's and Moore's book, "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young," and the resulting movie, "We Were Soldiers," as well as a second book, "We are Still Soldiers... A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam" when the two returned to the battlefield years late.

In an earlier column, I quoted Galloway about his time on the battlefield, particularly at Ia Drang: "The men I met and the time we spent together fighting for one another was a life-changing experience that transcends the bonds of friendship and brotherhood."

During one of our interviews, Galloway said of the Vietnam veterans: "They are not bitter but I am bitter in their behalf. It makes me angry that those who came to hate the war came to hate the warriors who were their sons and daughters."


It was seven years ago that I first learned of and wrote about the then decade-old commitment by Bellevue business leader and philanthropist Joan Wallace to the mostly Hispanic children in the Yakima Valley community of Granger that changed their lives and the life of their community.  

Wallace listened over Thanksgiving dinner in 2003 while Janet Wheaton, her sister in law and principal of Granger Middle School, expressed concern that the children, who had little food at home, would be going hungry without their two in-school meals a day over the Christmas holidays because the school would be out.

When Wallace returned home, an email donation request to pay for Christmas baskets of food went out to a few dozen of her closest friends and associates and soon thereafter, a non-profit named "Children of Granger" was formed.
Joan Wallace

Thus began an ongoing commitment by two women, one an educator and one a prominent Bellevue business leader. Their continuing involvement changed the future for the families in the city of 3,500 where the population is 84 percent Latino or Hispanic and 35 percent of the families live below the poverty level.

After writing the first Granger column, an annual update of the dramatic things that continued to unfold in Granger because of Wallace and Wheaton became my regular Thanksgiving offering to readers of The Harp.

Everything they did was aimed at helping kids break the poverty barrier, from giving each child in all grade levels an annual $200 "slush fund" for things like shoes and coats to giving mothers of pre-schoolers learning toys that brought grants once they had proved the value of their "Ready for Kindergarten" program.

"While doing our best to take care of the immediate needs, we also believe it is equally important to cultivate self-sufficiency and to enable these children to finish school," Wallace said.

But the most dramatic story of the impact that the two women had was with the successful campaign at the middle school five years ago to build a program to improve attendance because of its key to educational advancement. They came up with a slogan that became a mantra, "Every Child, Every desk, Every Day."

Thus in 2014, I was able to share that the little non-profit had put together a relationship with nearby Heritage University and its largely Hispanic student body and that the relationship had led to the first-ever grant to Families of Granger.

The $15,000 grant from the Yakima Valley Community Foundation, due largely to the involvement of Heritage student and mother of four Alma Sanchez, was used to implement an attendance-incentive program that Sanchez had created.

Those two things basically made 2014 the little non-profit's most important year. And there was a degree of magic in the results of Alma's idea. a quarterly incentive program aimed at perfect attendance.

Driven by the attendance-campaign slogan and the commitment of children, parents, and teachers, the school set the mark for best attendance record in the state, with an absentee rate of 4 percent, compared to a statewide average of 16 percent absenteeism, outdoing schools even in places like Mercer Island and Bellevue.  

I knew that accomplishment would go largely unnoticed by media and business leaders in Western Washington. So I met with Kemper Freeman, Pam Pearson of Q13 and Mike Patterson, since deceased, whose law firm represented a number of school districts and together we created a special award called Innovations in Education.

All involved, most especially Wallace, Wheaton, and Alma, were honored at a banquet at the Rainier Club and presented with plaques to help them remember the accomplishment that helped change a community.

The Yakima Foundation got involved with a grant for the attendance campaign and has supported the annual effort since.

Last week an email arrived from Wallace advising that the time for an exit to her active involvement in Granger had arrived. "The time has come and the path is not only clear but exciting and gratifying," she said, adding in the mail to her Friends of Granger, "together we have made a difference." She included a chart that showed "we poured $425,000 into the community."

"Friends of Granger will go back to the community to be run by a committee of teachers and community leaders," Wallace wrote.


My first column on Shabana Khan came when in 2015 when she was struggling to raise sponsor money to put on the Men's World Squash Championship at Meydenbauer Center as the first time ever for the event in the United States and I was asked to help her. I wrote a Harp then because I was intrigued about the sport and her efforts and other Harps followed as I watched her progress.

The men's world event turned out to be a success, attracting attention in all countries where squash is prominent, and within a couple of years, the 51-year-old former national women's squash champion had grown to become nationally and actually globally prominent as the queen of the promoters of the sport of squash.

That growing recognition for her efforts has come as a result of a few giant steps while to her frustration and the frustration of a few key supporters, her local visibility has come in small steps, including virtually no local media visibility.
 
Her late father, Yusuf Khan, brought the sport of squash to Seattle from his native India a half-century ago and, as one of the world's top squash professionals, proceeded to bring Seattle to the attention of the national and international squash establishments. Yusuf, who died in October of 2018 at 87, saw his two daughters become women' national champions, with Shabana beating her sister to claim the national title in 2001.

She put on a squash event last August that was the first of its kind in the country as she created a world invitational squash tournament that attracted the world's top squash talent, six men and six women and was pleased to have the event sponsors name the event after her late father.

The invitational event held at the Hidden Valley Boys & Girls Club in Bellevue was named "PMI Dave Cutler Presents the Yusuf Khan Invitational."

The "PMI Dave Cutler" portion of the title is for the two men, both internationally known in their respective professions, who have become the financial support for YSK Events, the little non-profit through which Khan carries out her squash events.

One is Dave Cutler of Microsoft, universally acclaimed as the key technical brain behind the Microsoft Windows NT and all the subsequent Windows versions. A decade ago he was recognized as a National Medal of Technology and Innovation laureate, perhaps the most prestigious honor in the country for developers of new technology.

The other is Robert Harris, founder, and CEO of PMI-Worldwide, a Seattle-based brand, and product-marketing company with offices in seven cities around the world whose corporate philanthropy has only recently begun to be recognized.

The two have come to team up for a $150,000 donation that for the past several years has allowed Khan to put up the prize money, which this year will total $300,000.

Among her important innovations for the sport has been her National College Showcase for nationally ranked students, 16 men and 16 women, aged 15 to 18, playing before coaches of the top schools where squash is a scholarship sport.  
 
Part of Khan's stated goal is bringing an awareness of squash to young people of all backgrounds rather than merely the children of the squash affluent, whose demographics are men and women, both players and fans, with median incomes of more than $300,000.
It seems that eventually, Khan's efforts on behalf of a sport that has begun growing in this country at a rate third fastest in the world will pay off with attention and support in this region, including sponsorships dollars.


It needs to be noted that when I refer to virtually no local visibility for several of the Harp topics I feature in this decade-ending reprise, I have to single out KCPQ13 television for the manner in which the station picked up on the Harps.

The station's VP and general manager Pam Pearson and her staff seized on the opportunity to provide support for Joe Galloway's veteran interviews and news coverage through his week of conducting interviews. And the station stepped up to be a sponsor of the Innovations in Education event for Joan Wallace and Granger involves. And they did an excellent interview with Art Harrigan that must have made other stations mutter "where the hell were we?"

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A Decade of the most memorable Harps

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Few journalistic tasks could be more subjectively challenging than that undertaken by various media entities as the old year faded into a new decade and they chose the best or most important news stories of that decade past. Thus came revisiting of the education funding battle, the various clashes over Sound Transit, the drama of Amazon's quest for a second headquarters, Boeing's travails and ventures into the absurdity of the Seattle City Council's machinations. But for me the challenge was easier: choose from a decade of Harps the stories most memorable to me, some of which got little in the way of broad visibility. These are not my most personal Harps like my daughter's selection for the Oregon Supreme Court, my involvement with the rise of the young biotech company, Athira, from being its first outside investor to watching its move toward national Alzheimer's treatment visibility, or my almost yearly opportunities to compete in the World Senior Games. But ones with broad impact that deserved more recognition.


The story that may have been the most impactful on the Seattle area in several ways was about Seattle attorney Arthur Harrigan, Jr., who had key legal roles in saving two of Seattle's professional sports franchises.

Harrigan's low-visibility legal maneuvers forced absentee owners Jeff Smulyan of the Seattle Mariners and five years later Ken Behring of the Seattle Seahawks to be pressed into allowing time for local buyers to be found rather than being permitted to move the teams.

The legal confrontations with the owners of the two professional sports teams came about because Art Harrigan's law firm, now Harrigan Leyh, long represented King County on its legal issues. And the owners of both the Mariners and Seahawks came into conflict with the county because they sought to abandon the county-owned Kingdome and their leases there.

Because the Mariners' decision occurred in arbitration session rather than court battles, there was no media visibility for Harrigan's victory that required Smulyan to not only allow an opportunity to find a local buyer but had the arbitrator set a "local value" $35 million below market value for the franchise. No visibility, that is, until Harrigan shared the stories with me nearly four years ago (search Flynn's Harp: Art Harrigan).

And five years after the Mariners were saved, a series of Harrigan legal maneuvers that ended up before the State Supreme Court and eventually NFL owners, left enough uncertainty about Behring's likely ability to move the Seahawks to LA that he sold the team to Paul Allen.

Harrigan's arbitration victory with the Mariners allowed the high-visibility work of then Sen. Slade Gorton and John Ellis in landing Nintendo as the new lead owner to unfold and Paul Allen to emerge as Seahawks owner. But Harrigan deserves a moment of thanks as each Mariner season opens and when Seahawk fans gather for the first game of the year.


The story I personally found most memorable was the quest of Washington State University, President Elson Floyd, to convince a legislature that was initially reluctant to give him a hearing, to create a medical school at WSU.

Getting the 2015 Legislature to approve the creation of a new medical school at WSU, despite bitter opposition from the University of Washington and its powerful lobbying influence, was the crowning achievement of Floyd's eight years as WSU president.

It only later became known, as his battle for his medical school was being won through the tireless effort of hours of testimony before legislative committees and engaging lawmakers in one-on-one meetings, that he was waging another battle.

Floyd apparently learned early in that 2015 session that he had colon cancer, which before long he learned would likely be terminal. But he fought with equal determination for the next four months against his cancer, a battle he would lose, and for his medical school, a battle he won.

He died on June 20, 15 days before Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill containing the first $2.5 million to launch what would soon be named The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, which would be located in Spokane and grow to serve communities in all parts of the state.

As a member of the national advisory board for what is now the Carson College of Business, I had the opportunity to get to know Floyd from soon after his arrival and was stuck, as many others were, with his focus on his conviction about what he viewed as the job-creating mission of higher education.

"We need to communicate with the Legislature and policymakers that we understand that we are about creating jobs, about economic development," Floyd said at his first meeting with the advisory board.

Thus he transformed WSU's role as Washington's land grant university into something far broader. He stood at the national forefront of college leaders in understanding that the role of universities in economic development was destined to become the issue it has become in most states.

And the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, in August of 2017, welcomed its first 60 students to its Spokane campus.


What I describe as the most interesting business-sports story of the decade was the decision by two of the icons of the cellular-wireless era to bring their mutual love of baseball to develop alongside their affection for their wireless business.
John Stanton and Mikal Thomsen were in their 20s when they teamed up in the early '80s at McCaw Cellular to become part of the birthing of a fledgling communications technology whose growth globally they helped guide through several major companies over the next 20 years. Stanton was actually second in command at McCaw.


Now in their early 60s, both have parlayed their business success into owning and guiding professional baseball teams, a commitment both might well agree is a passion that rivals their business activities. Stanton is the majority owner of the Mariners and Thomsen majority owner of the Tacoma Rainiers, making them an anomaly in all of professional baseball since the Rainiers are the Triple-A franchise for the Mariners.  

A business focus remains, however, as they continue to manage their Bellevue-based wireless venture and investment firm, Trilogy Partnerships, formed by a collection of long-time wireless partners after the sale of their Western Wireless to Alltel Corp. in 2005.

Stanton's and Thomsen's baseball involvement extends across the state and down to the West Coast League, an amateur collegiate summer league, where they are among owners of both the Walla Sweets and the Yakima Valley Pippins.

That baseball tie began, in fact, with the Walla Walla team in 2010 when Stanton, an alum of Whitman College, where he served as member and chair of Board of Trustees, called Thomsen and advised that he wanted him to join the ownership group Stanton was forming.
 
Thomsen returned the favor in 2011 when he advised Stanton that he was fulfilling his boyhood dream of owning his hometown Tacoma Rainiers team and wanted Stanton and his wife Theresa Gillespie, to join the ownership team.
 
In both Thomsen's and Stanton's cases, their love of baseball stems from childhood memories.
 
Thomsen once told me that the opportunity to create the ownership team that bought the Rainiers was like his "dream come true." He would be owning his hometown team that he had grown up rooting for from the time his dad took him to his first game at age three. That was the year that the then-Tacoma Giants returned after a 55-year absence.
 
Stanton also recalls attending the games of his hometown team with his father. That was in 1969 when, as a teenager, he became a fan of the Seattle Pilots in their first and only year of existence and recalls crying when they left town for Milwaukee.
 
So now Stanton, who took the title of Mariners CEO for a time after the ownership group he led bought out Nintendo, then turned over that role to Kevin Mather, has returned to officing fulltime in Bellevue where he can wander into Thomsen's office any time to discuss either baseball or wireless.
 
(The second article in this two-part series on my most memorable stories of the decade will be sent tomorrow. They will include a Harp that's my personal favorite because it's about my friend and former colleague, Vietnam correspondent Joe Galloway and his interviews with Vietnam veterans. Then there's the most overlooked story of the decade: the amazing commitment by Bellevue businesswoman Joan Wallace to the children of Granger, and finally the story of the locally overlooked but globally successful promoter of the sport of squash, Shabana Khan)
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Tears and joy flow on Alaska 'Fantasy Flight' from Spokane to North Pole

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From the young boy who told his elf "thank you for making this the best day of my life" to the surprise 70th birthday party for Mrs. Clause, this year's Alaska Airlines' "Fantasy Flight" carrying 64 needy kids and their elves to the North Pole from Spokane International Airport brought abundant tears and joy.
 
This story of love and compassion has been Alaska's annual holiday gift to not just the greater Spokane community but also to its employees and to those who, in learning of it, get to share vicariously some of what I've come to refer to as "the magic dust of caring" that's sprinkled on all those involved. This year the volunteers included 15Alaska employees from not just Seattle and Spokane but from far corners or the airline's system.

This "Fantasy Flight" to the North Pole, always known as Santa 1 as it takes wing carrying orphans and foster children ages 4 to 10 from Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, chosen by social service agencies, has been an annual event in Spokane, with sadly only occasional visibility from regular media, for 23 years.
 
But the real magic didn't appear until Alaska got involved in 2008 at the request of Steve Paul, now president and CEO of the non-profit Northwest North Pole Adventures (NNPA), and in his 20th year as a volunteer.
 
United had carried out the holiday event for a number of years but merely taxied the plane around the airport before stopping in front of a north-pole bedecked hanger on the other side of the airport for a party with Santa. But when Paul, then a traveling tech exec and now a senior IT project manager at Spokane energy management company Engie Insight, approached Alaska about replacing United, he asked why the plane couldn't take off and fly around for a bit before arriving at Santa's home. And so it happened.
 
And every year since. So last Saturday evening the kids and their personally selected elves hurried aboard an Alaska 737-900 for a 20-minute flight to visit Santa and Mrs. Clause at their North Pole home.
 
Paul, who is Elf Bernie when he puts on his costume including red top hat, said there were some changes this year, with a new, more expansive hanger arranged for to provide a North Pole Santa's home with more space for volunteers, and a new Santa, the first change in the jolly old man in a number of years.
 
Paul is a senior IT Project Manager at Engje Insight, an energy management company rebranded a couple of years ago from Ecova, who spends much of the year preparing for the flight, working with agencies that select the children, gathering sponsors and overseeing details like elf selection.
 
When I asked Paul prior to last year's column about his elf age, given that he was 43 in people years when he first got involved in 2000, he said his elf age is 907 years, adding that is really only middle age for elves so he still has a ways to go. And he leaves no sign of slowing down.
 
A key part of the event magic in recent years has been Alaska pilot Eric Hrivnak, who has been at the controls for a half dozen or so years. As the flight nears its conclusion, the passengers are told to pull the window shades down and chant the magic words that will allow them to land at the North Pole.  
 
As the kids pull down their shades and do a chant, each wave a magic light wand they were given as they boarded and then Hrivnak deploys the engine thrusters when Santa and Rudolph appear on the radar screen, providing the confirmation that the "Santa 1" flight has entered North Pole airspace.
 
The jetliner taxis to a hanger on the other side of the airport, where the passengers are greeted by a group of elves, with live reindeer milling about, and are they taken to meet Santa and Mrs. Clause.
 
The surprise party for Mrs. Santa was to honor Leslie Lathrop, one of two women founders of the nonprofit, who has been Mrs. Claus 21 of the event's 23 years. As her party began at the donors' celebration, her family emerged from the fireplace in standard Santa style.
 
It was a youngster named Linkin (CQ) whose day of excitement prompted his comment about the best day of his life to his elf, Gwindor, who in real life is Alaska pilot Scott Hitchings, who is retiring next year but told Paul he wants to continue to participate.
 
I first wrote of the event in 2010 when I learned of it from my friend, Blythe Thimsen, then editor of a Spokane magazine, who was to be an elf that year, an experience she shared with me then subsequently wrote about and sent me a copy of the article.
 
And as I explain each year, retelling and updating this story has been my holiday gift to readers of The Harp since then because it's a story of human caring and compassion that not only won't get old but perhaps becomes more needed each year.

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Proof of value from Opportunity Zones won't come quickly

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Any legislation created by Congress with the promise of helping the rich get richer by providing for them to help the poor is bound to be challenged from its birth, faced with a mix of believers, skeptics, opportunists, and cynics.  
 
So it is with the Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZ) provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that will permit those owing capital gains tax to delay, reduce or even totally avoid those taxes by investing in special funds designed to start businesses and provide other steps to help economically distressed communities.
 
Ralph IbarraRalph IbarraAnd now the OZ legislation, signed into law by President Trump three days before Christmas in 2017, a sort of holiday gift to taxpayers and, significantly, a bipartisan one, is drawing a lot of scrutiny from critics who contend it is turning out to be merely a tax break for billionaires and focused far more on real estate projects than on job creation.

Supporters counter that much of the criticism has a political ring to it a year before the presidential election in which Trump could point to it as an example, albeit a rare one, of Congressional bipartisan progress.
 
Meanwhile, officials in most states, including Washington, have been slow to roll out examples and promote projects the act has made possible with its capital gains tax breaks. Nor has there been much creativity on the part of state leaders to convince some of those wealthy investors to look at potentially winning projects, or in maybe putting state funds into projects that, coupled with the tax breaks, could become attractive for major investors.
 
The "politics" accusations are coming because Congressional opponents are starting to discuss what they see as the need for changes, including a possible effort to terminate zones that are not sufficiently low income. That was one of the key criteria for census tracts to gain OZ eligibility in the original list put together by the Treasury Department.
 
A recent high-visibility example of the criticism was a New York Times article that rained vilification down on Michael Milken, alleging that he tried to take advantage of the Opportunity Zones tax incentives to enhance the value of some of his Nevada property.
 
The Times article indicates that Milken, still widely recalled more as the billionaire king of junk bonds who went to jail than remembered for his decades of philanthropy since then, sought to press the Nevada governor and state officials to get the Treasury Secretary to classify the tract as an OZ.
 
There no real evidence that Milken did that, and there was no effort to paint any of his actions as illegal even if he had.  
 
The parcel was eventually included in the eligible census tracts, despite Treasury's concern that the residents were too well off to get the designation. Once included it was selected by the governor as one of the state's Opportunity zones.
 
Ironically, that Reno area OZ parcel in which Milken owns about 700 acres, contains many of the potential job-creating aspects of what proponents of the tax break indicated they hoped would come about, including a planned tech incubator where smaller companies could set up operations and seek investors.  

My longtime Latino friend Ralph Ibarra, a fan of the Opportunity Zones idea from the outset who has delved deep into the details of the tax-break legislation, says he felt it was a "golden opportunity" to provide a chance for investors to get involved to achieve good ends.
 
"if you want to get investors to act in their enlightened self-interest you incentivize them in ways they understand and that's by offering them the opportunity to get a return," said Ibarra, who has shared several ideas on how he might get involved in ways that would generate returns for his clients and causes from OZs.
 
When I mentioned the Times Article on Milken to Ibarra, who as president of DiverseAmerica Network helps corporations with diversity issues and small businesses with access to opportunities, he said he didn't see a problem.
 
"Using your influence in that way is no different than the Port of Tacoma going to the governor and saying 'it would be helpful if you designated the Tacoma Tide Flats as an Opportunity Zone so we can attract capital to some projects.'"
 
"In fact, I did it myself when I looked at every potential opportunity zone from Seattle to DuPont, intending to try to influence the process, then went to the Lieutenant Governor's office and suggested ones I thought should be selected. I said 'respectfully here are tracts that I believe are worthy of being selected because of the lack of equity capital for small and distressed firms in those areas.'"
 
Ibarra's point was he was seeking to use his influence with the lieutenant governor because of projects he had been involved with relating to the state's second-highest elected official.


Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, who wrote the 2017 Investing in Opportunity Act measure that was filed and then forgotten in committee, gathered support from moderates of both parties in a true example of working together to revive the bill as an addition to the major tax bill. Thus was born the Opportunity Zones.
 
Governors of the 50 states were brought into the implementation of the act by having the chance to designate census tracts where various business ventures would be eligible for the OZ benefits, through investment by Qualified Opportunity Funds.
 
Jessie J Knight JrJessie J Knight JrA key business figure I asked about the emerging criticism of wealth-enhancing projects just getting off the ground was Jessie J Knight Jr., a retired prominent San Diego business leader closely involved with oversight of the OZ legislation and one for whom philanthropy has become a retirement focus through his family foundation, Knight's Angels.
 
Knight, a retired Alaska Airlines board member who was chairman of San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas Co. both subsidiaries of Sempra Energy, where he was executive vice president, said: "judging this legislation on projects already in place is short-sighted and ignorant about economic development."
 
I reached out to Knight because he is one of the national business leaders selected to serve on a task force chaired by Vice President Michael Pence and Senator Scott that is overseeing the progress of the OP-zones program.
 
"This effort can only be judged in what new investment doors are opened to the private sector in the short run, and in the longer term, what businesses and communities have been improved in years five, seven and 10 (the years in which capital-gains taxes due are evaluated for reductions)," Knight said.

An effort at work in Washington may help provide the model for how Opportunity zones can help bring progress and job creation to economically deprived areas.
A working group, that includes Chuck Depew and the National Development Council for which he is a senior director and West Team Leader, is working with local communities and has come up with some promising projects, in Wenatchee and on the Colville Reservation in Central Washington.

The involvement of the state's Native American Tribes and Opportunity Zones designated near or adjacent to them has yet to fully emerge, but will be essential to future success, Depew says.

But he cautions, with a message that critics of OZ need to digest, that projects that will attract mission-driven investors who want to do good while gaining financial return take longer to put together than the low-hanging fruit that has attracted the wealthy investors looking only to get easy tax breaks.

"The challenge in the program is how can Opportunity-Zone communities, rural, urban and tribal, encourage mission-driven investors, including private, community and family foundations and social impact investors to be involved," Depew told me for an earlier column. "That takes time and resources."
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