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

FlynnsHarp logo 042016

Bud Krogh's lessons from the fall of a president

Egil-Bud-Krogh_-banner

Egil (Bud) Krogh took personal responsibility for the fall of a president and ever after cautioned against the "meltdown of personal integrity" that can accompany excessive loyalty to a president and the power of the office. Thus some with an ironic sense of history may evidence a thoughtful pause at the word that Krogh died quietly last Saturday at the age of 80, two days after the commencement of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
 
The disgraced presidency of Richard Nixon is the stuff of history books. But for Bud Krogh, the memories that remained vivid for the rest of his life were of condemnation and redemption for the role he played and the belief that the events that led to the fall of the president need be kept ever in mind by both presidents and those who work for them.
 
Egil Bud KroghEgil (Bud) KroghWhat follows is taken from a column I did on Krogh, with whom I became friends as the 40th anniversary of the 1968 campaign that brought Nixon to the presidency came about. And I did several interviews with him before various Seattle audiences.

Krogh, who had just passed the bar in 1968 after graduating from law school at the University of Washington, actually didn't have a part in Nixon's campaign. Instead, being left to run the Seattle law practice of John Ehrlichman, the prominent Seattle attorney who helped engineer Nixon's eventual general-election victory in 1968.    
 
But after the election, Krogh was asked to join the White House team as personal attorney to the president and staff assistant to Ehrlichman, who was one of the handful of men who basically ran the White House and thus the country until Watergate brought them all down.

The many books on Nixon and Watergate detail how Krogh, who was caught up in the scandal, was named by Ehrlichman to guide the "Special Investigations Unit" that came to be known as "the plumbers," whose charge was to stop the leaks to the media after the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers.

That led to the break-in at the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, whose release of the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times had helped create a siege mentality in the Nixon White House. Krogh's role eventually led to a prison sentence after he pled guilty to criminal conspiracy for engineering the break-in. 
 
Krogh recalled in our conversations and interviews how after Nixon's resignation, his path of reconciliation involved a visit with Fielding to apologize to him for Krogh's unacceptable violation of the rights of "a genuinely decent human being."

And Krogh and Ellsberg became friends, with Ellsburg writing the forward comments for Krogh's book.

Then followed a visit with Nixon in California in which Krogh recalls basically saying: "Mr. President. I apologize to you because everything that's happened was really my fault."    
I asked Krogh over lunch in 2008 if he and Ehrlichman, who also went to prison for his part in the events, had ever had the opportunity to talk through what had gone wrong. "John and I had several opportunities to visit after we were in prison, about what happened and why," he said. "We concluded that so many of the mistakes were due to our not grasping how off-base Nixon was in his demand for results that used illegal means."

Loyalty to 'the man' was the over-arching requirement for service on that staff." And it is the flaw of misguided loyalty that Krogh has remained ever convinced that presidents and their staff members must be vigilant to avoid. That commitment included his caution about "reliance on hazy, loose notions about 'national security' and 'commander in chief' and what such notions can be tortured into meaning."

Krogh left Seattle and his law practice in 2011 to join the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress as a Senior Fellow on Leadership, Ethics, and Integrity.

We last talked in 2012 as I caught up with him by phone as he was en route to a Pennsylvania speaking engagement. The time was near the anniversary of Watergate and I asked him if the book was still successful. "It's selling better now than at the beginning," he replied. "The issue of government integrity seems more relevant to people today."

By then his personal focus had become zeroing in on the School for Ethics and Global Leadership, which attracts high school students, and it was in that environment of sharing his philosophy with young people that he honed his Integrity Zone concept.

The concept of the Integrity Zone was based on a couple of fundamental considerations. The first is to challenge the process of thinking that precedes decisions, basically: "have I thought through all the implications?" while the second part is ethical considerations: "Is it right? Is this decision in alignment with basic values like fairness and respect?"

"We never asked any of those questions in the Nixon White House," Krogh told me. "And most of what we see in Congress today fails those tests. Instead, we see a focus on loyalty and fealty to party. You simply can't check your integrity at the door."

Continue reading
  94 Hits
  0 Comments
94 Hits
0 Comments

Green Bay Packers' most ardent fans? In Spokane!?!?

spokane_packers

While the Green Bay Packers were the enemy to fans looking on at TV screens in Seattle Sunday as they ended the playoff hopes of the Seattle Seahawks, it's an interesting sports history footnote that there was a time when Spokane area football fans were among the Packers' most ardent fans.
 
That was because a Gonzaga Bulldog running back was at the forefront of Green Bay's offense in the '40s. In fact, Anthony Robert (Tony) Canadeo set the Packers' career rushing record, carving out 4,000 yards during his career from 1941 to 1952 even though he lost almost three years for World War II service in the U.S. Army

In fact, Canadeo, who was not just the star running back for the Packers but in some years a key passer, set the single-season rushing record of 1,052 yards in 1949, then only the third NFL player to have a 1,000-yard season.
 
He was not only the Packers' leading rusher in 1943 but also their leading passer. Additionally, he caught two touchdown passes that year.
 
Canadeo's career offered proof of one of my favorite sayings, that the chain of fortune formed by fate is sometimes composed of strange links. Fate played a role in his arrival at Gonzaga and at Green Bay.
 
He actually got to Gonzaga by accident. That was because a high school friend of his in Chicago who was offered a football scholarship by Gonzaga made it clear he wasn't coming to Gonzaga unless his friend also got a scholarship. So Tony came to Spokane to play football with a friend long since forgotten.
 
Canadeo, who was known as the "Gray Ghost of Gonzaga" because of his prematurely gray hair, was selected by the Packers in the 9th round, as the 77th overall pick in the 1941 NFL draft.
 
And in fact, it was by accident that he was available to Packers' coach Curley Lambeau to draft.
 
Seems that Ray Flaherty, the NFL all-star end who had played his college football at Gonzaga before becoming one of the NFL's most successful coaches with the Washington Redskins, had intended to draft Canadeo but figured other teams would bypass him and he'd be available when Flaherty got around to him.
 
Flaherty, who always returned home to Spokane in the offseason, told me once during an interview in the late '60s at his Northern Idaho home that his friends always pressed him to draft the top Gonzaga players and he chuckled as he said he got a lot of heat from those friends for letting Canadeo get away.
 
And a year later, when Flaherty's Redskins won the 1941 NFL title, he had Gonzaga Bulldogs Ray and Cecil Hare in his backfield, likely one of the few if not only times that an NFL champion had two running backs from the same small college, and brothers, in the backfield.
 
In fact, Flaherty's Redskins held their training camp in Spokane in 1940 and 1941.
 
It wasn't until Jim Brown became the Packers' star running back in the late '50s that Canadeo's records fell.
 
And both Canadeo and Flaherty are in the NFL Hall of Fame, Flaherty as a coach and Canadeo as a player.

Continue reading
  154 Hits
  0 Comments
154 Hits
0 Comments

PART 2 - A Decade of the most memorable Harps

Decades_Most-memorable_2

(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?"

Continue reading
  167 Hits
  0 Comments
167 Hits
0 Comments

A Decade of the most memorable Harps

Decades_Most-memorable

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)
Continue reading
  159 Hits
  0 Comments
159 Hits
0 Comments

Two tech execs make pink socks the road to empathy, caring and love

pinksocks_banner

It seemed likely, after the August 3, 2019, mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart claimed the lives of 22 people and left 24 wounded, that the Texas border city would be remembered by history and its largely Latino citizenry as the site of the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American History.  
 
Then came the moving visit by members of the "Pink Socks Tribe" to the bilingual Dr. Sue A. Shook elementary school to show that love and caring are the healing antidotes to hate.
 
Andrew RichardsAndrew RichardsBy the time the November 18 and 19  visit of four leaders of the tribe to the school had ended, 1,337 pairs of pink socks, paid for by donations from members of the tribe around the world, had been passed out to students, teachers, and staff during two moving student gatherings, a morning one for the older kids and an afternoon one of younger grades.
 
But before sharing further details of the story of this special moment for children, teachers and all the staff at Shook Elementary, who had zero degrees of separation from the pain and the loss caused by the shooting, it's important to tell the story of Pinksocks Life Inc.  
 
It's a nonprofit that describes its role as "promoting authentic human connection around the world. In addition to empowering people from all walks of life to connect with anyone, anywhere, by creating a global tribe of pink socks-wearing people who are focused on empathy, caring, and love."
 
If that sounds like an intriguing mission, consider the two tech executives who launched the pink socks movement in 2015 at the same time as, but unrelated to, their seeking investors for their Portland tech company.
 
Nick Adkins and Andrew Richards, both then Portland residents, met on LinkedIn and co-founded ReelDx, a video-focused medical-education company for which they wound up spending a lot of time in Silicon Valley seeking customers and raising money. It was during that time that they launched pink socks.
 
They soon moved on to other roles as the company shifted direction, with Adkins moving to Pittsburgh and Richards to Spokane, but they continued their pink socks commitment.
 
I first met Richards three years ago when I did a column about his being hired as College Technology Incubation Officer at the then-new WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, as I described it in the column as "an unusual incubator to nurture new healthcare technology."
 
Then as Richards and I were at breakfast in Spokane a month ago, I learned the story of the pink socks first hand.
 
"When I was thinking about the fact the world has come to be a place where everyone, of all ages, is walking along looking at their hands, it occurred to me that it was important to somehow get people to look each other in the eye and acknowledge the connection," Richards explained.
 
So he decided to put on the pink socks and, as walking, he says "someone asked, what's with the pink socks?"
 
To which Richards says he replied: "They are meant to have someone ask that question while they are looking me in the eye and connecting." Then he handed the person a pair of the pink socks, whose feature is an array of black mustaches interspersed on the pink with black puzzle pieces.
 
Adkins recalls that he And Richards went to a healthcare conference in Chicago in 2015 where "There more than 40,000 attendees and, having packed our bags full of what turned out
to be the crowd favorites every time I wore them - the pink socks with the mustaches.  
 
"Every time someone came up to us and commented on our socks and asked us about them, we reached into our bags and gave them a pair of pink socks," Adkins said, adding, "when I gift the socks, I always look the other person in the eyes and say 'Every time you wear your pink socks you're going to make people smile! People will come up to you and ask you about your pink socks. That's your opportunity to connect with another person, that had you not been wearing your pink socks that day, the two of you would have missed each other in the universe.'"
 
We continued to attend conferences and hand out pink socks," said Adkins. "Some of the most important and influential people in healthcare have them.....even an astronaut who piloted the space shuttle has a pair!"
 
Richards estimates there are now about 100,000 members of the Pinksocks Tribe in the world in a movement that Richards notes has been "de-commoditized from its beginning in 2015 - all pink socks are gifts. Every connection made between the gift giver and recipient is based on an authentic connection, not a transaction."
 
In November of 2018, Ms. Blancas, the first-grade teacher at Shook Elementary, was teaching empathy to her students. She posted a video of her first-graders leaving the classroom and choosing whether to have a fist bump, a high five, or a hug to share with one of their classmates as they filed out of the room for the day. The majority of the kids chose the hug.
 
The video went viral and a member of the pink socks team noticed and after some contact, as Richards remembers, "we sent Ms. Blanca 32 pairs for her class and she gifted them."
 
Then came the Walmart shootings. Richards said, "I felt we, the pink socks tribe from around the world, had to send the school a message of love and support from all of us so we reached to find how many socks it would take to gift everyone in the school with the socks."
 
Soon came the arrival of four of the tribe board members to present pink socks to all. 'We walked in the door and started crying, overwhelmed by the school support," Adkins said. "It blew our minds."
 
He recalled that the first assembly had 600 older-grade students the assembly sang happy birthday to Ms. Blancas (Yes, it was her birthday). "Then the kids did the world's largest cinnamon roll hug ever, meaning everyone is hugging everyone at the same time," Richards explained.
 
The exponential ripple effect of goodness that these beautiful children in El Paso are creating across the universe through the timelines of their and our lives...that's the ROI of #pinksocks," Richards explained.

Continue reading
  361 Hits
  0 Comments
361 Hits
0 Comments

Joan Wallace bringing closure to long commitment to children of Granger

city-of-granger

The phrase "Michelangelo Moment," meaning the instant of inspiration when someone is touched to make a difference, first came to mind for me relating to Bellevue business leader and philanthropist Joan Wallace's impact on the lives of the families in the Yakima Valley town of Granger.
 
It was seven years ago that I first learned of and wrote about the then decade-old commitment by Wallace, now retired from her role as president of Wallace Properties to a cause distant from her Bellevue home where she has been involved in community causes too numerous to count. 
 
Joan WallaceJoan WallaceThat "moment" was 16 years when the story of Joan Wallace's role with the mostly Hispanic children of Granger and their families began at a 2003 Thanksgiving dinner with her sister in law.
 
Wallace listened over dinner while Janet Wheaton, then 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.
 
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 kid 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 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."
 
"With my sister in law now retired and no longer living in Granger, Friends of Granger will go back to the community to be run by a committee of teachers and community leaders," Wallace wrote.
 
"Over the years, more and more of the teachers have been donating a small monthly portion of their salaries to Friends of Granger. Moreover, with the shift in leadership, we predict that even more will participate. It takes less than $20,000 a year to run the food and emergency fund program. Janet and I have committed to donating annual funds to make up any deficiency for the programs. We have a proven structure in place and passionate and capable people committed to continuing the mission of Friends of Granger. Who knows where it will grow from here?"
 
But in another email to me, it became clear where Wallace intends to grow from here, causing me to realize she had encountered another Michelangelo Moment, touched with the inspiration to bring her talents to an organization called Acres of Diamonds.  
 
She explained that she had recently joined the board and had agreed to chair the capital campaign for the organization that is a homeless shelter for women with young children, "a faith-based organization with a success rate of over 80 percent."
 
Acres of Diamonds is located in Duvall but serves the greater Eastside teaching the women "the skills they need to develop their existing strength," Wallace wrote.
 
"The women are taught household management, parenting skills, budgeting, anger management, and they are provided childcare and expenses to go to school," Wallace said. "But they must commit to job-skill training,  abstinence from substance abuse, getting a job, and contributing to their cost of care when they are capable."

She added that "the program lasts two to three years and has been extraordinarily successful."
 
I will be expecting an email ask soon, to which I'll respond as always.

Continue reading
  206 Hits
  0 Comments
206 Hits
0 Comments

Proof of value from Opportunity Zones won't come quickly

opportunity_banner

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."
Continue reading
  282 Hits
  0 Comments
282 Hits
0 Comments

As he turns 94, Dan Evans' role in history will be discussed at Tower Club interview

Daniel J Evans

We call the Columbia Tower Club's breakfast interviews On the Shoulders of Giants in the hope that those who accept the invitation to be our guests fit the role of giant whose shared wisdom can permit us to stand on their shoulders, as it were, to perhaps learn from them in shaping our own futures.
 
And despite his likely reluctance to accept the "giant" characterization, former Governor and U.S. Senator Dan Evan comes about as close as any public figure in this state to earning the accolade "giant."
 
So we hope to put some of his thoughts and deeds on display and in the discussion next Friday morning, October 25, the date when he has agreed to be our guest interviewee.
 
DanielEvansDaniel J EvansIt was 55 years ago this November that Daniel J. Evans was elected governor, the state's youngest governor, defeating two-term incumbent governor, Albert D. Rosellini, who was seeking a third consecutive term in the 1964 election. Evans bucked a Democrat landslide nationally that year in winning.
 
It was an election season not unlike this one in terms of the fierce political battles that then, as now, even created divisions within parties, with the John Birch Society creating a right-wing focal point for Republicans.  
 
Despite being a Republican and a self-styled conservative, Evans became known for his administration's liberal policies on environmental protection as he founded the country's first state-level Department of Ecology, which became President Nixon's blueprint for the federal EPA.
 
He was a strong supporter of the state's higher education system, including founding Washington's system of community colleges.
 
And he fought unsuccessfully for a state income tax, basically telling voters that if they rejected his tax plan they maybe should reject him as well. But voters made up their own minds and kept Evans while rejecting his income tax.
 
He achieved national prominence in 1968 as he was chosen to give the keynote address at the Republican National Convention that nominated eventual president Richard Nixon. Evans was talked about for a time as Nixon's possible running mate but his refusal to endorse Nixon, instead of throwing his convention support to Nelson Rockefeller, ended vice president talk.
 
In reflecting on Evans in preparation for the interview next Friday, I went over some previous columns I did on him and was reminded that he was an elected official who was impossible to pigeonhole ideologically. As both governor and senator, he avoided ideological rigidity and found good ideas might sometimes spring from the Democrat side of the political aisle. And that dumb ideas could sometimes be offered by his fellow Republicans.  
 
Proving he was impossible to typecast politically, Evans was equally comfortable blasting "talk show hosts screeching about waste in government," proponents of term limits and a balanced-budget amendment, environmental extremists, and excessive regulations that stymie growth.
 
In a memorable speech he made in Seattle to an audience of business leaders in the mid-90s, Evans offered a couple of bits of political wisdom that bear sharing.
 
"By constantly trashing our political leaders, we also breed disrespect for our own system, of government," Evans said. "The result is a new political landscape dotted with constitutional amendments and initiatives designed to protect citizens from 'evil' politicians."
 
Of two ideas whose proponents have continued to seek traction, Evans told a business-leader audience: "The balanced budget amendment is a loony idea that is meaningless until we decide how to keep a national standard set of books so we can measure balance."
 
And of the idea of term limits, Evans offered: "As a voter, I am outraged by those sanctimonious term limiters who would steal from me the freedom of my vote."
 
But in addition to hitting "those talk show hosts who cater to the base emotion of people," he took to task "the politicians who blithely promise what they know they cannot deliver," and "those rigid environmentalists who will see you in court if they don't get all they seek."
 
Thus he has always been a leader in what I, and many, feel is an unfortunately disappearing breed, those who view ideas on their merits rather than insisting that any new idea must be vetted based on where it fits ideologically.
 
Evans celebrated his 94th birthday this week with friends, followers and admirers, and students of history, still awaiting completion of his autobiography.

Continue reading
  410 Hits
  0 Comments
410 Hits
0 Comments

News report from 9/11 of global grief serves as a reminder

911_reminderBanner

(The following article, written a few days after the tragic 2011 September day that has become etched forever in our minds as 9/11, was a reporter's wrap-up of the grief that citizens of every country shared in our behalf. The piece, written by a former, now late, United Press International colleague named Al Webb from his post in UPI's London bureau, was first shared in The Harp on the 10th anniversary of that day and again on the 15th anniversary. Now it has become my annual reminder of that display of shared pain out of a sense that it deserves, or rather requires, being remembered.)    
 ------------  
 
By Al Webb
LONDON (UPI) -- A small girl with a Cockney accent shyly waved a tiny American flag, and a queen brushed away a tear. In a Scottish town that has known its own tragedy, a lone church bell tolled. On a German river, foghorns sounded a low moan.
 
Across countries and continents, waves of sympathy for a nation in anguish rolled on. A young woman in a Kenyan park wept over the sad headlines in newspapers spread on the ground. A one-time terrorist donated blood for the victims. Hundreds stood in line in cities from Dublin to Moscow to sign books of condolences.  
 
And over the outpouring of grief and mourning for the lives lost in the boiling flames and rubble of the World Trade Center towers and a wing of the Pentagon, time and again came the strains of "The Star-Spangled Banner," sometimes in places where it had never been sung before.
 
In a gesture reminiscent of John F. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner," symbolizing his solidarity with another troubled people a half-century ago, the Paris newspaper Le Monde perhaps summed it up best: "We are all Americans."
 
In London, where the little girl with the funny accent and her American flag pressed her damp face against the gates, the band performing the traditional Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace suddenly did something it had never done before -- it struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner."
 
 For 45 minutes, the Mall in front of the palace became a little piece of America for hundreds of its citizens who were there because there were no planes to take them home. And the band of the Coldstream Guards played on.
 
As tear-stained faces lifted and sang along, as Americans and British and other nationals waved Old Glory, the marches rolled -- "The Liberty Bell" after the national anthem, followed by "The Washington Post March" and "Semper Fidelis" and finally, heart-rendingly, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home."
 
What the Coldstream Guards had triggered was the greatest mass demonstration of grief in Britain since Princess Diana was killed in a car crash four years ago. And as with Diana's death, a carpet of flowers, children's toys, poems, letters, all illuminated by tiny candles, built up this time at the fortress-like U.S. Embassy in London.
 
Amid the hundreds of bouquets, a single American flag was wrapped around a tree. One woman pressed her tear-dampened lips to its fringe in a soft kiss.  
 
The sweeping tide of mourning reached its crescendo at 11 o'clock Friday morning when Britain, France, Germany, and scores of other countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia went silent for three minutes, in honor of the innocent dead in America.
 
In Paris, the elevator at the Eiffel Tower stopped halfway to the top. Buses, trams, and cars halted in their tracks across the continent.
 
In Spain, more than 650 city and town halls became gathering centers for tens of thousands who bent their heads in silent prayer -- and then, at the end of the three minutes, they lifted their eyes and applauded in that people's traditional tribute to the victims of terrorism.
 
On the River Elbe leading into Hamburg, ships flew their flags at half-mast. The minutes of silence crept by -- and at the end were broken by the sound of a thousand foghorns rolling across the water into the city's very heart.
 
In Lockerbie, Scotland, there was no applause, no singing, no bands, only the ringing of a single church bell and the flutter of flags at half-mast. This is a town with singular links to America, forged in a terrorist attack in the skies 13 years ago.
 
In all, according to an estimate by The Daily Telegraph newspaper in London, some 800 million people across Europe joined in the three minutes of silence.
 
At Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, once part of a dividing line between freedom and tyranny, a crowd of some 200,000 -- among them Germans whose relatives had died in terrorist attacks -- gathered beneath a black banner bearing the words, "We Mourn With You."
 
In Paris, crowds jammed the Place de la Concorde, itself a symbol of reconciliation, while church bells rang for five minutes before the silence.
 
In the government's Elysee Palace, "The Star-Spangled Banner" rang out, while over the French airwaves, radio stations played John Lennon's "Imagine."
 
The bankers of Switzerland are not noted for their sentimentality, so they dealt in their own currency. At the end of the three minutes of silence, they announced they were donating more than $500,000 to the families of the victims of the atrocities in America.  
 
Lloyd's of London, the insurance market-based in the British capital and one of several insurers of the World Trade Center, rang its Lutine bell and observed a minute of silence in memory of the dead in America -- some of them in the several broker offices Lloyd's has -- had -- in the WTC.  
 
In Belfast, the bullets and bombs of Northern Ireland's own form of terrorism, known as sectarian violence, went silent as tens of thousands from both sides of the divide -- Roman Catholic and Protestant - gathered in front of a makeshift stage at City Hall, to stand in silent tribute.
 
It is a city that knows the heartache of terrorism. "We have suffered for 33 years," said Betty McLearon. "People here have to be admired for the way they can cope with it. It will take the people in New York a long time to get over this."
 
In Moscow, the Russians observed a minute's silence as they laid wreaths and floral tributes outside the U.S. Embassy, once a symbol of the Cold War. Thousands of Muscovites lined up patiently to sign books of condolences.
 
In turbulent Israel, a nurse gently inserted a needle into the right arm of Yasser Arafat, himself a one-time terrorist who is now head of the Palestinian Authority. In a demonstration of support, he was donating blood to help the American injured.
 
Back in London, the minute of silence was followed by a service of remembrance in the capital's majestic St. Paul's Cathedral, led by Queen Elizabeth II herself. In the audience of 2,400 inside, Americans hoisted the Stars and Stripes for the rest of the world to see via television.
 
Outside the cathedral, the tens of thousands who could not get in waved their own tiny flags and listened over the loudspeakers that carried the words and music for blocks around.  The cathedral's huge organ rumbled into life, to open the service, appropriately, with the American national anthem.
 
Then something happened that has never happened before, certainly not in public and doubtless not even in private. Softly, the queen began to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
 
Now, the British monarch does not "sing" national anthems. When they are played, she never even opens her mouth. Until now.
 
 But Queen Elizabeth sang it all, this song whose words were written 187 years ago during Britain's last war with her lost American colonies, through the final words, "O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave." With the last note, the queen gently brushed away a tear.
 
(Al Webb died in January 2015 at the age of 79 after a UPI career that ranged from the civil rights struggles to the battlefields of Vietnam to the Houston Space Center. But he could well be best remembered for this piece of moving reportage whose rereading stirs a compelling question about whether the global regard for us that the outpouring of affection evidenced remains our national treasure. Or has it become a squandered legacy.)

Continue reading
  642 Hits
  0 Comments
642 Hits
0 Comments

State High Court's agreeing to hear Sound Transit tax case will reignite old arguments

soundtransit_banner2

The fact the State Supreme Court will hear arguments next Tuesday on the legality of how Sound Transit is imposing the vehicle taxes necessary to pay for its light rail system is sure to reignite some of the arguments about the most expensive transportation package ever undertaken in the nation.

Specifically, the issue before the nine justices will be Sound Transit's use, commencing mere months after voters in three counties approved the measure known as ST3, of a formula that inflates the value of vehicles on which the annual motor vehicle, or car-tab, tax is levied.  

The case before the high court is an appeal of a ruling by a Pierce County superior court judge who quickly dismissed a class-action lawsuit that contended the law authorizing those taxes was unconstitutional. The rapid ruling by Judge Kathryn Nelson, who basically said she wasn't qualified to decide the issue, meant Sound Transit could continue to collect the car-tab as it has been doing since early 2017.

Indeed, in addition to providing a renewed interest on the part of both supporters and opponents in replaying the arguments over the ballot measure, the high court's handling of the arguments and its eventual decision on the Pierce County case may provide some interest for court watchers. But more on that later.

For opponents of the 2016 ballot measure, the initial flap in early 2017 over the unexpected leap in car-tab (MVET) tax for motorists to renew their vehicle licenses was an I-told-you-so moment. Opponents viewed it as epitomizing the arrogance of the unelected Sound Transit board that opponents had been trying point out.

Car-tab taxes are the agency's second-largest source of revenue to pay for the massive expansion of bus and light-rail service the voters approved.

The first broad perception of Sound Transit arrogance surfaced with the outcry from motor vehicle owners, pro light rail or not, irate about the increase in the cost of renewing vehicle licenses after the excise tax had climbed dramatically, due in part to the vehicle valuation chart used by Sound Transit.

The agency uses an outdated formula, inherited from the Legislature, to estimate a car's value for the purposes of collecting taxes. The unexpectedly higher car-tab fees result from the formula that inflates newer cars' values, relative to Kelley Blue Book values.

The Legislature has repeatedly failed to pass bills that would correct the formula because while support for such legislation has been bipartisan, it has not been sufficient to approach a majority.

In fact, the outcry over the inflated MVET fee has also echoed into the legislative halls with a proposal that Sound Transit's governing body should be elected, instead of being officials elected to various local offices and then appointed to the board.

The goal of legislation that passed the State Senate, then controlled by Republicans, but got nowhere in the Democrat-controlled House, would have been to replace the 18 Sound Transit board members with 11 directors directly elected by voters in districts that would have been created by the legislature.

Sound Transit's media relations person explained that part of the reason for the large jump in MVET fees was that, in approving the $54 billion ST-3, voters said ok to a major increase in vehicle excise tax.  

The outcry would suggest that many voters weren't really aware of that.

The Sound Transit public relations representative had been quoted earlier, as the MVET flap emerged, to the extent that Sound Transit could have used a vehicle depreciation schedule that would have meant a less expensive renewal fee but chose not to "for simplicity sake," to bring transportation relief quicker.

Now back to the point of legal minds and those interested in how courts make decisions will likely be watching as the process unfolds in this case over the coming months leading to release of the court's decision.

What could be a backdrop issue here is the difference between the merits of the argument by the plaintiffs seeking to reverse the Pierce County judge's ruling and the perceived "public good" of a $54 billion regional transportation plan that impacts the revenue of hundreds of companies and thousands of jobs.

Whether something is good or bad policy has frequently been a consideration at the U.S. Supreme Court level but state supreme courts usually seek to avoid going into the "public good" issue and instead stick to interpreting the law in the case before them.

But judges on this state's high court, being human and subject to political and social tugs, could find themselves tempted not to overthrow the funding device without which Sound Transit's transportation master plan would be thrown asunder.

So while I don't advise attorneys how to practice law, I have to think it would be a missed opportunity to fail to suggest, for the judges' inclusion in their thought process, that if voters three years ago felt the plan was good public policy, the outcry over the tax to pay for it could suggest a different public attitude. And add to that the fact that it's now pretty likely that alternative vehicles added to the transportation equation could render a rail-based system obsolete years before it's due for completion.

Continue reading
  680 Hits
  0 Comments
680 Hits
0 Comments

Bellevue hosts global squash sports event

shabana_banner2

Two men who built global reputations in their respective industries have come to be viewed as the dedicated heroes advancing the sport of squash in this region by way of their financial support for the India-born queen of promoters of the sport who is making the Eastside a growing international center for squash.

The two are Dave Cutler of Microsoft, key developer of Windows NT and all subsequent Windows versions, and Robert Harris, founder, and CEO of PMI-Worldwide, Seattle-based brand and product-marketing company with offices around the globe.

Shabana Khan PMIShabana KhanTheir support has made possible the string of international squash events put on by Shabana Khan, who has become one of the foremost creators and promoters of squash events, all held in Bellevue, thus making the city increasingly known throughout the world in places where squash is a prominent competitive sport.

And again this week, Khan, with the support of Cutler and Harris, is putting on a first-of-its-kind squash event, this one at the Hidden Valley Boys and Girls Club field house, which has become her venue of choice for her events.

Cutler and Harris have decided to name the week-long world invitational squash tournament for top squash talent, six women and six men, the only event of its kind in the country, after Khan's late father.

Yusuf Khan, who brought the sport of squash to Seattle from his native India a half-century ago when Shabana Khan was still an infant.  

As one of the world's top squash professionals, Yusuf proceeded to bring Seattle to the attention of the national and international squash establishments and see two of his daughters become women's national champions. He died last October at the age of 87.  

Thus the "PMI Dave Cutler Presents The Yusuf Khan Invitational" is playing out this week with the finals Friday evening. An added attraction is what Khan has dubbed "The Tech Challenge," with eight two-person teams from tech firms in the region competing in what Khan intends to make an annual part of her tournaments in the future.

As has become the norm for Cutler's and Harris' involvement, the two are teaming up for a $150,000 donation to provide the major share of the $300,000 purse. The winners of both the men's and the women's competition will each take him $80,000.

The financial support by the two has been the key for YSK Events, the little non-profit through which Khan puts on her squash events.

Readers of The Harp will recognize that I've written about Khan before, beginning when she brought the Men's World Squash Championship to Bellevue in late 2015, first time the event was ever held in the U.S. The reason for the repeat visibility is out of a conviction that what she is seeking to do for Bellevue, and its young people in particular, merits far more attention and support from the community than she has been able to generate. 

When I first wrote about Khan, now 50 and the mother of 13-year-old emerging squash star Yasmin, I noted that she had won the U.S. women's national championship by defeating her younger sister, Latasha, who held the title, thus creating a "best in the family, best in the nation" outcome.

The PMI Cutler tourney this week follows last May's Bellevue Squash Classic, the third year Khan has put on that event as part of the PSA World Tour. It was an especially significant event and a milestone for the PSA World Tour as it was the largest ever prize-money purse for a 16-player draw.

Come fall, Khan launches her West Coast Squash circuit designed to make it easier and less expensive for parents and their children to compete at a high level and gain points toward national ranking. Two tournaments will be at the Redmond Pro Club, where Khan coaches and which has been a regular sponsor of her events. The first of those will occur in late September or early October to launch West Coast Squash. Other cities participating and holding events will be Vancouver, B.C., The Bay Area, Orange County and likely Portland.

So back to Harris and Cutler, who a decade ago was recognized as a National Medal of Technology and Innovation laureate, perhaps the most prestigious honor in the country for developers of new technology. Cutler expresses frustration at the absence of other support for what Khan is seeking to do for squash among young people in particular.

And he suggests that her involvement in the past few years may have something to do with the fact The U.S. has the fastest growing squash participation in the world, which the Sports & Fitness Association (SFIA) estimates at 66 percent growth overall since 2010 to 1.7 million squash players around the country.

Regarding Harris's support, I was struck by a previously quoted answer when I asked him why he was such a strong supporter. And his answer bears repeating and maybe echoing.

"It's pretty simple," he said. "In a world beginning to look inward rather than building international alliances and global partnerships, I believe it's increasingly important to support sports that are global in nature and connect people from around the world. This is the only way humanity and our planet is going to survive and prosper."

 
Continue reading
  446 Hits
  0 Comments
446 Hits
0 Comments

'Encore Entrepreneurs' a growing reality for seniors support groups

WED_Seniors

The director of Income Security at the AARP Foundation, Aliza Sir, seems an unlikely messenger for her talks to entrepreneur-support groups with her attention-getting message that today's entrepreneurs are just as likely to be empty nesters or grandparents as typical tech-savvy younger people.

So it's appropriate on this World Entrepreneur's Day, created by the Alliance of International Business Associations to focus awareness on entrepreneurship and innovation, for the entrepreneur-focused Kauffman Foundation to discuss "encore entrepreneurs," in keeping with Sir's message.
 
When I retired in 2006 and bought the domain name "Entrepreneurial encore," it was because I knew that would characterize my post-retirement path and that at some point, I could create a website with that focus for others seeking the same encore. I just didn't realize that I was merely ahead of the curve.

Kauffman, the Kansas City, MO, organization that is the nation's largest non-profit focused on entrepreneurs, notes that "America is not getting any younger," adding that "in fact, last year the U.S. Census Bureau's national population projections forecast that by the year 2030, older people, 65 years and older, will outnumber children under age 18 for the first time in U.S. history."

And Kauffman's most recent Index of Startup Activity points out that the highest rate of entrepreneurial growth over the last few years is not Gen Y startups but Boomers over the age of 50, a trend that has attracted the tag "Encore Entrepreneurs."

According to the Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship, the percent of the U.S. population that starts a new business is highest in the 45 to 55 age category at 39 percent with the 55 to 65 age group following closely behind at 38 percent. In both age groups, the number of new startups trends upward. Moreover, the percent of new entrepreneurs who created a business by choice instead of necessity in the 55 to 64 age categories registers just over 88 percent, higher than any other age group.

"The future of work is something that we think about a lot," Sir added. "The trend of older entrepreneurs offers amazing potential for people to leverage their experiences, work for themselves, and transform Main Street economics. It's incredibly important to celebrate and lift up those entrepreneurs."
 
Comes now the State of New York with a leading-edge initiative that is most likely to spread to other states, and hopefully, Washington State will be at the forefront.
A bill called the "encore entrepreneur,", proposed by Sen. Rachel May, a Syracuse Democrat would establish training and education programs across the state to allow older citizens to more easily open and operate their own businesses. It's been approved by both houses of the legislature and is awaiting signature.
 
"What we're seeing in New York and around the country is that, more and more, there are people over the age of 50 turning to entrepreneurship," said the lawmaker's chief aide. "We need to understand that, while New York's population is getting a lot older, it doesn't have to be a problem. We need to see it as an opportunity. And one opportunity is the potential for encore entrepreneurs."
 
Supporters of the legislation say it will establish a more robust system that would allow the state to better incorporate older citizens into the economy.
 
As key supporters note, "many older people have significant work experience, deep networks of contacts and are typically placed in the low-risk lending category."
 
But many seniors often lack direct knowledge of starting and growing their own business or maybe intimidated to work in an incubator space surrounded by dozens of millennials decades younger.
 
My first reaction to that was that as WeWork, with its the soaring success, has changed the way people think about work and office spaces and Seattle-based Riveter has created a model for co-working space for women, some entrepreneur will soon come up with a plan for co-working space for seniors.
 
The New York plan could lead to something like dedicated educational and mentorship programs directed towards seniors within a business incubator, or it could be a dedicated space for just seniors to work in.
 
"No state to date has done much to explicitly support senior encore entrepreneurship," he said. "One of the reasons that we felt a piece of legislation was important is to nudge the state into taking more of an active role," said the New York lawmaker's aide.
 
At my retirement party, as I left Puget Sound Business Journal's publisher role in April of 2006, the late Herb Bridge said to me: "I can't envision you being retired, Mike."
 
"Herb," I replied, "there are various ways to retire. It's like if your tires are getting in need of a change, you drive into Costco to get a new set of treads and you emerge re-tired and ready for another trip."
 
I figure an increasing number of those like me, including a number of friends reaching 70s and beyond, will find themselves looking to re-tire for a new trip and that a growing number of support services, including from states and dedicated workspace, will emerge to help fuel the trips.
 
My friend and venture capitalist John Fluke Jr. has a message for senior entrepreneurs that relates to not trying to fly alone and reminds those hoping to find investors for their businesses that most of the investors that seniors might hope to attract are likely to also be seniors, well into their 60s or beyond.
 
Fluke is chairman of Fluke Venture Partners and chairman of Athira, the regenerative-medicine biotech that is attracting national attention to its human trials on a drug to regrow brain cells and in which he and I were fortunate enough to be the first two investors (at dramatically different amounts!),
 
He says his interest in investing in an entrepreneur company has more to do with the team being assembled than in the age or gender of the entrepreneur.
 
A lone entrepreneur is going to be less interesting than one who has begun to assemble a team, Fluke said. "There's a reason why a commercial jetliner always has two pilots."

Continue reading
  673 Hits
  0 Comments
673 Hits
0 Comments

Mrs. Washington has an agenda for mothers and challenged kids

neelam-chahlia

Neelam Chahlia's path to her selection as Mrs. Washington America began with a pregnancy crisis when doctors said her unborn son had a hole in his heart and advised that she terminate the pregnancy. Her husband told her she should listen to what the doctors said, to which she replied: "No, I am listening to what my heart says."

She not only carried her son, Dax, now a healthy youngster who turns 4 next week and has begun to play soccer, to full term but was moved to launch a group aimed at helping other mothers to recover both physically and emotionally from the stresses of pregnancy.

neelam chahlia mrs washingotnNeelam Chahlia
Mrs. Washington
For Chahlia, who was born and raised in a small town in India and educated there through her master's degree and Ph.D., the experience of pregnancy that by the third trimester had her bedridden and virtually unable to walk caused her to be determined to recover and become "the best version of myself."


And she says that her recovery process "awakened a passion in me to help other mothers. I want all women to know there is strength in motherhood."

It was that conviction and learning that Mrs. Washington could provide a platform for her, that prompted her to enter the pageant, although knowing that no first-time entrant had ever won.
   
"I was sending my resume to almost everyone in hopes of getting back to work," she explained. "One of my former co-workers and a good friend suggested joining the Mrs. Washington America organization, where I could make more connections, improve communication skills as well as continue with my community work."

"So, once my son joined preschool, I decided to apply for Mrs. Washington America," she said.

But the 39-year-old mother of two (her daughter, Zoey, is 8) did win the title in Olympia in June and is now preparing for the Mrs. America 2020 pageant in Las Vegas later in August.

As Mrs. Washington, Chahlia says she wants to raise awareness about drug abuse among young people through the Victoria Siegel Foundation and save children's lives through UNICEF in addition to her focus on aiding women recovering from problem pregnancies.

Chahlia came to the U.S. in 2008 after getting her Master's in zoology with a focus on human genetics and her doctorate in biological sciences and became a citizen three years ago.

She says she worked hard to become a scientist and an engineer but never dreamed of being a beauty queen.  

Although she says "it's not really a beauty pageant since the mission of Mrs. America is making a difference," as in she now gets to go around the state to talk about my issues." But she explains she is seeking to raise money because candidates who raise the most are automatically moved to the semi-finals. Her goal is $20,000 and has gained $3,400, including a sponsorship from the Pro Sports Club in Redmond.

But Chahlia is waging another campaign in addition to her one on behalf of mothers coming back from difficult pregnancies.

Chahlia, who says she has been trying for nearly a year to return to work, says she understands the challenges faced by working women in getting back to work after pregnancy or other personal needs. So she wants to work with the major corporations in Washington to establish strong returnship programs.  

She is seeking to help create a "returnship program," noting that"It is exceptionally 
hard for women to get back into the workforce after taking time off to care for a sick child or an aging parent," she said. "Instead of getting rewarded for their sacrifice, they are penalized for helping the ones in need."   

So she says she is working with state Sen. Manka Dhingra.on a tax incentive bill for corporations that provide returnship programs.

Continue reading
  1136 Hits
  0 Comments
1136 Hits
0 Comments

Katrina Eileen touts shared housing as a wish-fulfilling step for at-risk youth homelessness

Like pearls on a string, those focused on doing good tend to connect and attach themselves and spawn new ideas for expanding the sphere of socially committed citizens. And Katrina Eileen Romatowski is convinced that the pearls are those from her real estate industry as well as their investors whose commitments to at-risk young people could address homelessness in unique ways.

Katrina Eileen RomatowskiKatrina Eileen RomatowskiRomatowski is a Seattle real estate agent who is creating Level Up as a non-profit that will provide what she describes as a "real home" for at-risk and foster youths who have aged out of the system. She thinks that the concept of shared housing can be a key to solutions for homelessness and that the real estate community and real estate investors are specially equipped to guide that part of the solution.

"Nonprofits providing group homes or halfway houses don't understand the business and real estate side, so they lack the tools to focus on housing," she said. "It's inexcusable that we in the industry have been silent too long on the role we can play in creating a model of structures and scale up to address homelessness."

She touts her firm, Katrina Eileen Real Estate, as the first "B Corp" in her industry in the state, meaning a for-profit business that includes positive impact on society, workers and the environment in addition to profit as legally defined goals. Forming as a B Corp (sometimes referred to as benefit corporations) allows her to focus the company on community good, not just profits.

Level Up aims to create "vibrant homes for foster kids who are in their senior year of high school and have thus aged out of the system but who can live well and finish well," says Romatowski as she guides final steps to welcome the first 10 students who will move into the first Level Up home in Edmonds by mid-August. She intends that others will follow the first house in King and Pierce County.

Romatowski's desire to provide a wish-fulfillment of home and family for young people just reaching adulthood without families, whether foster kids, orphans or homeless, guided her to the vision for Level Up and led to befriending "Wish Man" Frank Shankwitz, the creator and one of the founders of Make a Wish Foundation, a supporter.

Shankwitz, who created Make a Wish 29 years ago and whose life is featured in the movie, "Wish Man," that was released last month, is to be on hand to cut the ribbon for the Edmonds first Level Up home July 27.

And Shankwitz, who will be the featured guest at the Columbia Tower Club's "On The Shoulders of Giants" breakfast interview series that morning to share his story, is hoping to follow the shared-housing model in getting involved with services for veterans.

Shankwitz noted in a conversation we had discussing the breakfast interview forthcoming that he got a star on the Las Vegas Walk of Fame this summer between Elvis Presley and Bobby Darin. He said he's been on a plane to somewhere probably every other week promoting his book, the movie or giving speeches. Forbes Magazine has honored him as one of the 10 top keynoters. When he's not traveling, he's at home in Prescott, AZ.

It's a well-known story but one not familiar to everyone how Shankwitz, as one of the primary officers from the Arizona Highway Patrol responsible for granting the wish of a seven-year-old boy named Chris, dying of leukemia, who wanted most of all to be a police officer. In the spring of 1980, the boy was named the first and only honorary Arizona Highway Patrol officer, an honor that came complete with a custom made uniform and badge.

A few days later, Chris died. But he received a full police escort to the cemetery in Illinois where he was buried. His brief life became the inspiration for the creation of the foundation that would let children "Make a Wish."

Frank ShankwitzFrank ShankwitzRomatowski is quick to point out that the inspiration for Level Up, which involves several investors from the real estate industry, came from what she characterizes as "the miracle" of Kate's House Foundation, created by Frank and Sherri Candelario to provide safe and affordable housing for those homeless and in recovery.

The Candelarios, also real estate investors, boast having founded "a new model of shared housing to help end homelessness in the U.S.," noting their approach is identifying, buying and rehabbing homes in "superior neighborhoods to provide a lifeline for people in recovery."

"We're helping real estate investors around the country acquire homes to end homelessness and addiction in their own cities," says Frank Candelario. "We have great homes in great neighborhoods, utilizing tech-enabled all digital sober living. We use the latest in technology: computerized drug testing, smart technology for monitoring, data collection to assure that we are assisting in recovery and a highly skilled hands-on staff."

Romatowsi says the Candelarios urged her and her husband, Richard, the company COO, to use their shared-housing approach to aid talented kids moving from foster homes and orphan situations to adulthood.

Meaning rather than dealing with recovery issues, Romatowski, and her husband plan to build places where "go-getters go get," kids who, when it comes to graduation and launching into what's next, "we want them to finish and finish well," she says.

"Level Up Seattle provides these young adults with a warm community in a beautiful home where they attend school, take turns making meals and attend life-skills classes," she adds. "We also provide career development and mentorships with business and trade professionals, but importantly, we empower them so they can lift themselves up to their next level."

As Angie Christensen, Level Up executive director, put it: "We want to select motivated young adults within these vulnerable populations and equip them to achieve their personal, educational and professional goals, creating their own safety net for perhaps the first time in their lives."  

Christensen estimates that Level Up, which is seeking donations now, will need about $225,000 "to launch the model and build the scalable infrastructure." 

With the creator of the Make a Wish Foundation along with the shared-housing solution to homelessness that's been launched by the Candelarios, and now Katrina Eileen's firm and non-profit, the way may indeed be being paved to providing national tools to fight homelessness, from at-risk youth to veterans.

Continue reading
  672 Hits
  0 Comments
672 Hits
0 Comments

Reporter pursues answers over illegal immigrant crimes

seattle_skyline

The most interesting news story in the state right now relates to the politically charged issue of Sanctuary protection for illegal immigrants against the backdrop of a heinous crime committed in Seattle by one illegal and the fact elected officials, particularly the sanctuary supporters, are avoiding media efforts to get answers about the incident.

Brandi KruseBrandi KruseActually, the effort to get answers to the rape of a wheelchair-bound woman in front of her three-year-old by an illegal from Mexico is an effort by one journalist, though she is quick to point out "it's not one reporter but a team working on this together at our station."

KCPQ-TV commentator Brandi Kruse is the leader of a one-media campaign to get a response to questions from officials ranging from Gov. Jay Insley to King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Looking sternly at, or maybe through the camera at the silent elected officials, Kruse suggested to viewers in one broadcast: "those with such fierce support for sanctuary laws would certainly be willing to defend those laws. Not so much. Not so much."

But while Kruse is troubled by the lack of answers, actually the lack of responses other than minimal from representatives of the elected officials, what's equally troubling to me as a journalist is that local media, ranging from the Seattle Times to the region's broadcast outlets, are shying away from coverage of the issue. It's not clear whether they are seeking to avoid red-flagging at least one aspect of the sanctuary issue or whether they don't want to be latecomers to a cause to which a competitor has given significant voice.

Kruse is no young reporter trying to make a name for herself with an issue that could embarrass elected officials.

Rather she brings a list of awards to her regular role as host of "The Divide," a Q-13 Sunday morning commentary that looks for common ground on issues dividing Americans, not a bad goal in an era when divisions have become gaping wounds on the body politic.

Kruse is a nine-time Edward R Murrow Award recipient for excellence in journalism and a four-time Emmy nominee for her work covering veterans, the opioid epidemic, and the effort to reform Seattle's police department.

What she has been pressing elected officials for are answers on how do the sanctuary policies they have proudly put in place allow illegals like 35-year Francisco Carranza-Ramirez to be protected by the system. Ramirez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was convicted of raping a White Center handicapped woman, got off with an incredible nine-month sentence that included time already served then tracked his victim down, pushing her out of her wheelchair and strangling and beating her in front of her young son.

Inslee made sure, as he hits the road on the extended role in the Democratic presidential sweepstakes, that he will get plaudits for ensuring, by a decree issued in May, that his state is one of a handful of sanctuary states.

How appropriate if he got a question from a reporter on the campaign trail along the lines of whether he had included any safeguards for his state's citizens against any criminal element among those illegal immigrants, then site the Ramirez case.  

Turns out the King County Superior Court judge who imposed the sentence said she was prohibited by law from asking Ramirez about his immigration status, a comment that may or may not be accurate.

Now Ramirez is home in Mexico and Kruse has been advised by a spokesperson for the court that there are warrants out for him through which he could be extradited back to this state to face more severe charges on the second rape (I could say alleged because he hasn't been tried but let's give the handicapped woman the courtesy of belief).

So the email Kruse got back from the court spokesperson should follow Inslee on the campaign trail, since he refuses to personally address the question at home. Although after some prodding, his staff recently said they would look into the situation.

The county has felony warrants out for the rapist, but it is unknown if he will be extradited. Kruse wanted to speak with the judge, Nicole Gaines Phelps, to ask about the likelihood of extradition. This is the response she received from the court's communications director, as she outlined on her Q13 show, The Divide.

"He does have warrants out, but we probably won't be exercising the extradition process," said the spokesperson, then closed the email with a winky face emoji.

"That's how our judge's spokesperson responded - a winky face emoji?" Kruse questioned. "A winky face emoji was used to help explain why they won't extradite a convicted rapist who was in the country illegally and allegedly attacked someone?

As Kruse questioned in her commentary: "Could the law be written in such a way that it doesn't provide sanctuary for criminals?"

"Like how dare you fail to give answers," she pressed elected officials. "Get thicker skin. Get the courage to defend what you believe in."
The entries she has gotten on her Facebook page by the dozens indicate broad agreement with her effort to get answers. Too bad other local media don't care to enter the hunt for answers.

Of course, there have been expressions of anger from sanctuary supporters who think it unfair to questions sanctuary policy that makes it difficult to determine where criminals may be hiding among the illegal immigrants.

Perhaps it's appropriate to focus on this issue as we celebrate the nation's birthday, honoring the date in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed since it seems like the appropriate time to celebrate the American dream framed by that declaration, as well as give thought to who gets to dream it.

As I wrote last July 4th in a column that upset some of my conservative friends, as this one will irritate some of my liberal friends, two things made me think of that. The first was a feature from Geekwire, the Seattle-based technology news site, focusing on the American Dream that guided immigrant entrepreneurs and tech leaders to this country and success. The second was a poem written by an immigrant fifth grader in San Diego about a conversation between "The Wall and Lady Liberty."

The Geekwire interviews had the tech execs explaining why they chose the U.S. as a place to build their lives, families, and dreams and thus were able to fulfill their American dream and became highly successful.  

The second was having a chance to read the poem by Guadalupe Chavez after a prominent immigration-attorney friend of mine in San Diego, Kimberley Robidoux, who is a judge in an essay event for immigrant fifth graders from around the nation, told me about the contest and the San Diego youngster who took second in the nation.

Robidoux, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's San Diego Chapter and a judge in the Celebrate America Creative Writing Contest, explained to me that the contest challenges fifth graders across the country to reflect on and write about the theme "Why I Am Glad America Is a Nation of Immigrants."

It was my quoting Guadalupe's essay conversation in which Lady Liberty is questioning the wall about why it needed to be there that upset some of my conservative friends. My reaction was "let a fifth grader have the freedom to ponder being glad America is a nation of immigrants."

Certainly, there are children among the illegal immigrants, as with legal immigrant kids like Guadalupe, who have a right to dream the American Dream that it might sometime come to pass for them. 

But my reaction to my liberal friends who may find offense at this column, which is sure to happen to those in Seattle, is: "If you create and believe in the concept of sanctuary, have the courage to defend your actions when the flaws emerge. Have the courage to insist on fixing the flaws in the face of hostility from your friends who find themselves locked into politics over substance.

Except people like Governor Inslee and King County Executive Dow Constantine disappoint by being leaders of the politics-over-substance crowd.

Continue reading
  875 Hits
  0 Comments
875 Hits
0 Comments

High-intensity training promoted to combat muscle-deterioration disease

jesper-aggergaard-539134-unsplash

As Ann-Marie Anderson and her clients and friends celebrated the 25th anniversary of her Ideal Exercise gyms and her exercise model of 10 minutes of high-intensity a week, she has begun to focus on helping the anti-aging effort by enhancing awareness of exercise to combat a muscle-wasting disease called sarcopenia.

Ann Marie AndersonAnn Marie AndersonOver the quarter-century, since she and her late husband, Greg Anderson, founded the first of their gyms, the concept of 10-to-15 minutes of resistance training once, or for some twice, a week may have seemed amusing to many, until those who chuckled tried it and became believers. And some of the "believers" have been clients for as long as she has had the gyms, now one in Seattle and one in Bellevue, while I've been a client and believer for three years this month.

Now she is turning part of her attention to teaching a population that is living longer than the process of aging can have an "anti-aging" flip side, which she sees as the outcome of creating a better understanding of sarcopenia.

Sarcopenia is defined as "a disease associated with the aging process. Loss of muscle mass and strength, which in turn affects balance, gait and overall ability to perform tasks of daily living, are hallmark signs of this disease."

Until recent years it was thought to be an irreversible part of the aging process. Now the medical profession has come to be aware that it is treatable, and that "The primary treatment for sarcopenia is exercise, specifically resistance training or strength training, activities that increase muscle strength and endurance."

"People, not merely those who are aging, since we all are, need to know more about this disease, which even health care workers as recently as the mid-90s viewed as muscular deterioration that was just a part of the aging process," Anderson told me at a recent workout.

"Now we know that it is a muscle deterioration process that can be combated and reversed by exercise," she added. "That's why I want to begin to focus on seniors."

"People need to stay functional and my vision and purpose is to train people to exercise in a safe way so they stay functional for a long time," Anderson added.  

High-Intensity Training is taken from the "SuperSlow" process devised more than 40-plus years ago by high-intensity guru Ken Hutchins, who defined and popularized his trademarked SuperSlow form of resistance-training exercise and developed methodology, trainer certifications and exercise equipment. He worked specifically with Nautilus, the exercise-equipment manufacturer that had developed: "strength training principles."

SuperSlow workouts, which are actually high-intensity, slow-motion strength training, typically consist of one set on each of five or six Nautilus units, each set carried out to complete muscle fatigue. Hutchins recommended performing each set for between 100 and 240 seconds, depending on the exercise and the subject's capability.

The bible of the high-intensity disciples is Body by Science, co-authored by Doug McGuff, M.D., who throughout his medical career maintained a focus on high-intensity exercises culminating in the late '90s with his opening Ultimate Exercise, his own high-intensity gym.

This may seem like a column to promote a particular and unusual training regimen and in a sense it is, and I'm in good company. My high-intensity trainer's routine is supported by an array of healthcare leaders, most of alternative healthcare, though McGuff's longtime focus indicates believers among conventional medical practitioners. And Anderson says she has had orthopedic surgeons, dentists, gynecologists, "every type of doctor over the years." 

Among those prominent fans is Jeff Haller, a nationally known teacher of teachers in the Feldenkrais Method, which is about being sensitive to your body and coming to understand that your brain has the ability to guide healing.

I asked Haller, who played college basketball at Oregon State and whose Bellevue-based Inside Moves is the outgrowth of his studying directly under Moshe Feldenkrais in the early '80s, about his view of the importance of high intensity to healthy aging.

"High-intensity training makes great physiological sense and there is no more efficient way to retain lean muscle mass while aging," said Haller, who still plays basketball in his early '70s and has been working out with Anderson for five years.

Or as my friend Bob Greszanik, whose clients at his Energetic Sports Lab for acupuncture, sports medicine and energetic technologies in Bellevue include college and professional athletes, put it: "It provides more strength in less time without the risk of injury. It's the new paradigm of training."

Greszanik, who takes Fridays off most of the year to spend the day playing basketball, added: "I personally gained 15 pounds of muscle. It's hard for people to comprehend that less can be a lot more."

Dr. Joe Pizzorno, founder and 22-year president of Bastyr University and one of the nation's most respected naturopaths, has been a client of Ann-Marie's for virtually the entire quarter century since she and Greg first opened their Gym.

I asked Pizzorno to explain what 25 years working with Anderson have done for him.'
"My wife, Lara, began working out with Ann-Marie. I didn't pay much attention as I had been happily working for three years with a trainer who had me doing one hour sessions three times a week.

"But about six months, Lara mentioned how much weight she was now lifting I was shocked. Despite my being bigger (and male) she was lifting almost as much as I was! So I decided to give Ann-Marie a try and in only three months I had increased my strength by a remarkable 40 percent.  

"Of particular significance to me is that as an avid basketball player, jumping height is critical to me. While monitoring the amount of weight a person can lift is the standard way of tracking efficacy, vastly more important to me is a virtual leap," said Pizzorno, now his mid-70s. "That 40 percent improvement translated into a real world four more inches of elevation! Working out just once a week."  

In fact, the training model has long been known, but unfortunately not widely publicized, to be a way to aid those suffering from osteoporosis.
The way osteoporosis came into the equation is when Hutchins and his wife, in 1982, conducted the "Nautilus osteoporosis study" at the University of Florida Medical School and found that the slow-moving, controlled-exercise approach was effective in building bone density in elderly women with osteoporosis.

Entrepreneur Sandy Wheeler, the founder of equipment maker Bowflex, which owned Nautilus for a number of years, recalled in an interview a couple of years ago that the company did a project with Tufts University to measure how the use of the equipment improved the bone density of people in their 80s and 90s.

The impediments to popularizing High-Intensity training are two: since it is one-to-one training for a brief time each week, it's not likely a sports or health club is going to promote it to its members, and the fact is exercising to the point of failure on five pieces of equipment is painful.


And since the practitioners like Anderson are few, given the one-client-at-a-time limit to building the business and the number of months to learn the process, there aren't enough of them to do marketing or advertising campaigns.  
 
Bur word of mouth is beginning to bring newcomers so Anderson is seeking to create a certification program to begin turning out more trainers than the handful she has been able to train personally given her own schedule of 100 clients a week schedule.
Continue reading
  606 Hits
  0 Comments
606 Hits
0 Comments

Joe Galloway interviews and recollections of one of 'Chosin Few' are Memorial Day focus

galloway2

Memorial Day inevitably provides a reminder for me of the journey that my friend Joe Galloway has been on conducting interviews over the past six years across the country with veterans of the Vietnam War to preserve their memories as part of the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration.

His interviews have been the soul of the 50th Commemorative that was launched seven years ago this Memorial Day to honor those who fought in Vietnam but were never thanked when they returned to a divided nation.  

Joe GallowayJoe GallowayGalloway, one of the best-known correspondents of that war as a reporter for United Press International, was selected by the Defense Department unit charged with administering the program to do the interviews to preserve for future generations.

This column was to be an update of Galloway's interview travels as he gets back on the road, after two spinal surgeries In February, off June 9 for Florida with July in upstate New York, then in August to Louisville to do a week of interviews at 1st Marine Division Association. Reunion.

Then I learned of a coming reunion for a different war, the Korean conflict, whose returning veterans were celebrated for their contributions to the nation rather than reviled. The reunion is June 13 in Reno for the approximately two dozen "Chosin Few" remaining survivors from the battle at Chosin Reservoir in North Korea in November of 1950.

So I decided to make this column a two-part Memorial Day week offering, part on the correspondent collecting the stories of Vietnam veterans and part on one soldier's story as one of the Chosin Few, survivors of a battle that was the subject of a 2010 movie that was featured on PBS a couple of weeks ago.

Michael Kavanaugh's walker sports the decal declaring "Chosin Few" and he talked about it a bit at a Memorial Day event at The Bellettini retirement community in Bellevue where he lives.

Kavanaugh, who grew up in Omaha, fell in love with the idea of being a U.S. Marine as an early teenager and became a Marine reservist at 16 and after boot camp was assigned to train recruits in rifle proficiency.

But as the Korean War broke out in June of 1950, and United Nations forces marched deep into North Korea, Kavanaugh, then 19, soon found himself and his 1st Marine Division as part of X Corps advancing in a way that had the high command and Gen., Douglas McArthur hoping to end the war by year's end.

Kavanaugh was hit in the leg at the front by a piece of shrapnel, a development that likely saved his life. When he got out of the Army MASH unit hospital and visited the army commissary he was asked "Do you want a cold weather cap? How about a jacket? How about cold weather trousers?" His answer to all was "yes."

He likes to relate with a chuckle that before he hitched a ride back to the front, he was told he would guard the regional commander that night. The commander turned out to be Chesty Puller, who was to become the most decorated U. S. Marine in history. "He came out every two hours to make sure we weren't asleep."

It was Puller, then a colonel but eventually a lieutenant general, who offered what became a timeless quote at the Chosin Reservoir battle. "We've been looking for the enemy for some time now. We've finally found him. We're surrounded. That simplifies things."

In a couple of days, after bumming a ride back to the front near the port city of Wonson that allies had occupied in the early months of the war, Kavanaugh would find himself among the 30,000 United Nations Command troops encircled and attacked by 120,000 Chinese troops at the battle of Chosin Reservoir.  

It was a brutal 17-day battle in temperatures that plummeted to 35 to 40 degrees below zero. Many of the 17,000 casualties in U.N. forces were wounded or killed or froze to death as they were without proper clothing. That's how Kavanaugh's visit to the commissary for warm clothing paid off.

Had that number of U.S. casualties occurred in a Vietnam battle, it would have caused riots in the streets across America. But it was a different era with a war viewed differently by the American public.

MichaelKavanaughMichael KavanaughKavanaugh left the Marines two years later and began a 33-year-career with the British American Tobacco Co., mostly as a resident of California.

He and his wife, Lorayn, have returned to various gatherings of "the few" over the years, including in 1987 when they were among about 130 who were invited by the South Korean government to return to ve recognized Korea to be recognized, although of course there was no visit back to the site of the battle. He and the others, at an event attended by the Marine Corps Commandant as well as South Korean government officials, all received the Korean Marine Corps Service Medal hung from a ribbon carrying a small version of the flag of each country in the U.N. force.

Now back to Galloway, a UPI reporter decorated for battlefield heroism at the battle of Ia Drang in November of 1965, spent a week doing interviews in Seattle in the spring of 2015, after I urged him to come to Seattle 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 role in the 50th Anniversary Commemoration, 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 email exchange this week, Galloway told me: "Earlier this year I interviewed a veteran who had suffered a debilitating crippling stroke two weeks before...but he so wanted to tell his story that he came in a wheelchair. He died two weeks after the interview."

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."

 
Continue reading
  1029 Hits
  0 Comments
1029 Hits
0 Comments

Shabana Khan's squash events drawing more attention with a focus on youth

shabana_banner

Shabana Khan's rise to national and global prominence as the queen of promoters of the sport of squash has come with a few giant steps while her progress toward recognition in the local community that she has put on the international squash map is happening in small steps.

One of the reasons she has gained high regard from youthful squash players, their coaches and parents are the national College Showcase that she put on last week 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. It was the fourth annual Showcase event.
Shabana Khan and Yasmine

The fact the young competitors were all from Washington and California while the coaches eyeing prospective scholarship talent were from schools like Amherst, Middlebury, Vasser, George Washington, Bates, and Brown points up the difference in focus on the sport on the East Coast and the West, including the Puget Sound area.

But another difference, one for which Khan deserves significant recognition, is the fact that similar tournaments on the East Coast cost the young competitors, or rather their supportive parents, between $3,000 and $5,000 to participate in one of the four-day events while the students competing here pay nothing.

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 and an average net worth of nearly $1,500,000.

A quest for awareness for youth squash is exemplified by her thus-far unsuccessful effort to convince the City of Bellevue that there should be a park for squash courts so that, as she puts it, "kids of ordinary means can learn to play without having to have their parents be members of a club."

In fact, as the mother of aspiring youth squash star, 13-year-old Yasmine, she knows the challenges of youth-squash competition.  

Readers of The Harp will recognize that I've written about Khan before. Beginning when she brought the Men's World Squash Championship to Bellevue, the first time (ever) in the U.S. The reason is because of a conviction that what she is seeking to do for Bellevue and its young people in particular merits far more attention than she is getting.

A couple of significant developments for Khan and her squash initiatives await in the coming months. One brings particular pleasure to the now 50-year-old former national women's squash champion.

That's the fact that her world invitational squash tournament in August for top squash talent, six women and six men, will be an event whose sponsors have decided to name the event, the only one of its kind in the country, after her late father. There are no other squash events in the country like it.

Yusuf Khan, who 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 and see two of his daughters become women's national champions, died last October at the age of 87.

The invitational event that will be held August 25-30 at the Hidden Valley Boys & Girls club in Bellevue will be 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.

"Every player participating is ranked inside the top 10 in the world," Khan noted. 'The only one, not world ranked is our local player, Reeham Sedky, who has just recently begun her professional career."

I got to write about Sedky, though sadly it was her only local visibility, after the then 21-year-old who was born and raised in Bellevue and became the nation's best women's high school squash player as a student at Forest Ridge, upset one of the world's top women at last year's Invitational.

Sedky has begun her squash pro career after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania where she was women's national squash champion.

The fact that her father is Egyptian works for Amazon and played squash, is an example of the role the growing international diversity of the Puget Sound region can play in bringing squash, among the top sports in many countries, into greater prominence among activities for young people.

It's particularly appropriate that the PMI Dave Cutler event will be named this year for Yusuf Khan since it was 20 years ago that he and Shabana teamed to bring to Seattle the first women's world squash championship ever held in the United States.

Khan is adding a fun factor to the invitational event this year in the form of a tech company tournament that she explains will be called the Tech Challenge and will involve 12 teams, with four from Microsoft already committed. Each team of top squash players from their companies will put up $5,000 to compete.

"We need about $110,000 from the 'Tech Challenge' to fill out our $300,000 prize money," Khan said.

And a few weeks after the invitational event, Khan's plan for a new series of western youth squash tournaments called West Coast Squash will debut as a competitive Junior Squash series involving teams from Vancouver, Portland, San Jose, San Francisco, and the Los Angeles area. She said Orange County, "which has an excellent squash facility," could be added.

In the face of an apparent lack of interest, from the Eastside establishment, in what Shabana is doing for the image of the area in the global squash community and the many countries where squash is a top sport. I was struck by the answer that Harris gave me last year when I asked why he was such a strong supporter of Khan. It bears repeating here.

"It's pretty simple. In a world beginning to look inward rather than building international alliances and global partnerships, I believe it's increasingly important to support sports that are global in nature and connect people from around the world. This is the only way humanity, and our planet are going to survive and prosper."

It's a comment that leaders of the business and civic communities that have "other causes" than Shabana's might ponder.

Continue reading
  828 Hits
  0 Comments
828 Hits
0 Comments

Trade pacts should be about economics, not politics - Frmr Congressman Bonker

DonaldBonker_banner

Donald Bonker, one of this state's most respected experts on international trade across the past half dozen presidential administrations, suggests that when trade agreements become more about politics than economics, the stability of economies comes to be at risk.

In focusing on the current trade crisis with China, Bonker, a former seven-term Democratic congressman from Washington's Third District, suggests that "China has a historical and long-term perspective that is lacking in America. 

Donald BonkerDonald Bonker"They have a five-year economic plan that enjoys strong support while America has presidential elections every four years, with incoming presidents often reversing the course of their predecessors," he said.

Bonker's trade credentials, both those he earned during his 14 years in Congress from 1974 to 1988 and from his involvements thereafter, have gained him broad respect in this country and abroad for his trade and foreign investment knowledge.

He was a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade. Bonker served on the president's Export Council and headed former House Speaker Tip O'Neill's Trade Task Force, which led to the passage of the 1988 Omnibus Trade Act.  

I knew Bonker well when we were both in our early 30s, he as innovative auditor of Clark County, laying the groundwork for an intended but unsuccessful run for secretary of state, and I as a UPI political writer in Olympia. And later, after his first unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate, I had him write a regular trade-issues column for Puget Sound Business Journal.

In fact, I have had fun telling friends occasionally that after he left Congress, at one of our meetings, he gave me a photo of us that had been taken at a 1968 political fundraiser for Sen.Martin Durkan and that had hung on his wall during his years in Congress. After sharing the story, I then add that the reason it had hung on his wall was because of the other person in the photo, then-Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana, one of his heroes.

Bonker, 82, travels back and forth regularly from his Bainbridge Island home to Washington, D.C., where he is an executive director and on the international advisory council of APCO Worldwide, global public affairs & strategic communications consultancy.

We hadn't visited for years when I suggested recently that we have lunch so I could learn about his newly published autobiography called Dancing to the Capitol, which begins with what the foreword describes as "a wry take on his brief stint as a dance instructor, which gives the book its title and its spirit."

The foreword, by former Los Angeles Times editor Shelby Coffey who is now vice chairman of the Nuseum, describes Bonker as "a man of faith--often struggling with being both a Democrat and a Christian," and noting that Bonker helped bring the National prayer breakfast to international prominence.

"He has been a key, if quiet, force for others of faith who contend in public life," Coffey wrote.

In fact, our luncheon discussion quickly turned from his autobiography to the issue of trade and politics. Bonker would like to see Democrats turn trade discussions away from the punitive to the progressive, meaning they should focus on building the opportunity for exports that could create jobs rather than be focused on trade barriers in the hope that approach can retain jobs.

During his tenure in Congress, Bonker authored and was a principal sponsor of significant trade legislation, the Export Trading Company Act and the Export Administration Act.

"The trade issues are very difficult for Democrats," Bonker said. "In their hearts they are global but labor has become so against trade that Democrats are left in a difficult political position."

"We should match what our competitors -- Japan, China, Germany - have been doing for years. They have ambitious government programs that give their exporters an advantage in this increasingly competitive global economy," Bonker suggested. "The U S., by comparison, is so preoccupied with limiting imports that there is little or no attention given to boosting exports. That is the real problem."
My alternative would be to export more, not import less," Bonker said.

"One example is the Export-Import Bank, which provides essential financial guarantees that allow U.S. corporations to compete with their competitors (Boeing versus Airbus)," he added.  

"This respected financial entity remains idle now, even though it does not require Federal funding," Bonker said. "Meanwhile, across America, there are about 50,000 domestic companies that are competitive but have difficulty pursuing foreign markets because the help that should be there isn't."

Bonker offered a bit of history on the political back and forth that has characterized this country's trade positions, starting with the passage in 1928 of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that hiked tariffs, often up 100 percent, on 20,000 foreign imports.

"That prompted our allies and dozens of other countries to retaliate, causing the collapse of the world trading system that led to the Great Depression," Bonker said.

"Hoover was booted out, replaced by FDR, who championed pro-trade policies to repair the damage to international trade," he added. "Again, the political dynamic changed around the 1960s-70s, where Democrats, driven by labor unions, started to embrace protectionist policies, and Ronald Reagan arrived to champion free trade.  

"Trump's campaign rhetoric and subsequent actions are more in sync with Democrats and Bernie Sanders," Bonker added, with a jab at both. "Republicans are puzzled and frustrated.  It is contrary to their fundamental beliefs, alignment with their business support base."

As to the China trade concern, Bonker said: "whether China will retaliate to the latest round of tariff threats remains to be seen, but in long term, you don't mess with China, even if your name is Donald Trump."

Bonker, who specializes in Chinese investment in the United States, offers a criticism of both houses of Congress for their reactions to the Administration's tariff initiatives, saying"Senate Republicans remain muted and House Democrats discretely like what the President is doing, adding, "if we continue down this path of protectionism, it will be a repeat of Smoot Hawley."

Continue reading
  709 Hits
  0 Comments
709 Hits
0 Comments

The reason that WA is unlikely to have a state capital gains tax - this session

neonbrand-258972-unsplash

Disagreement between Washington's Democratic House of Representatives and the Democratic Senate over a proposed capital gains tax will likely keep the tax from being included in the state's operating budget for next biennium.

And that could be well for both those for whom the lawmakers should be seeking to provide opportunity and for the wealthy that many legislators would merely like to squeeze.

With Sunday's sine die adjournment of the 2019 Legislature's regular session looming, there appears virtually no likelihood that the two houses can resolve their differences over the most controversial piece of the tax increases they seek to impose.

There is obvious business pushback over any new taxes the lawmakers might pass in an economic environment in which state forecasts of surging new revenue already provide the lawmakers with $5.6 billion more to spend in the coming biennium without new taxes.

And the protests over a possible capital gains tax provision is the most logical for business to oppose, particularly now because of the impact an ill-thought-out version of such a tax could have on the opportunity for future job creation.

The "opportunity" I'm referring to is the Qualified Opportunity Zones created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 with those zones basically being census tracts designated by the governors of each state where development could occur and where those putting up the funds to seize those opportunities would get capital gains reduction or deferral.

Gov. Jay Inslee, with the help of Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, was an early and enthusiastic advocate for picking census tracts that could best serve the goal of supporting the economic opportunities and creating jobs in less well to do parts of the state. Each opportunity zone is selected from the state's census tracts.

So it would seem that if Inslee thought through what's at stake in imposing a capital gains tax now, he would be saying "don't pass that now." But some would suggest urging Inslee to "think it through" might be an issue in itself.

Over the past year, professional firms and wealth management companies have been promoting their OZ expertise to clients and prospects while states have begun to compete to lure investors to projects coming about or envisioned on their lands where the benefits of the new federal tax law could come into existence.

A key issue, beyond the fact that all states that impose a capital gains tax acknowledge that it is a tax on income and an income tax is unconstitutional in this state, is that states with a capital gains tax have moved or are moving to bring their state capital gains tax provisions into harmony with the new federal one.

Meanwhile, the IRS has been tinkering with the rules, issuing proposed changes several times in the past year and leaving uncertainty for those seeking to be early users of the tax advantage for projects ranging from hotels to manufacturing facilities.

The tax rates on capital gains range from California's 12.3 percent to North Dakota's 2.9 percent. Oregon's rate is 9.9 percent, above but similar to the 8.9 percent proposed for the Washington capital gains tax.

Most all of the states understand that failing to give a capital-gains break similar to what the federal tax law will provide is likely to put them behind the eight-ball in appealing to those seeking projects that will maximize their benefits.

And since the federal law will permit anyone anywhere owing tax on capital gains to invest those dollars in a project in any Opportunity Zone in the country, the example I share with people is the guy in Keokuk, IA, who needs to find an Opportunity Zone somewhere in which to invest his gains. He will go looking for a project he likes in Montana or Oregon or Washington, make his investment watch the tax-break dollars pile up.

If he's going to give up 10 percent of tax savings on his gain by investing a Washington zone rather than an equally interesting project in Montana, why would he do that?

Thus the importance of a state staying in the herd of states that are adding state tax breaks to the federal ones. But that takes planning and such planning isn't possible during what's left of this legislative session.

Continue reading
  591 Hits
  0 Comments
591 Hits
0 Comments

52°F

Seattle

Mostly Cloudy

Humidity: 63%

Wind: 14 mph

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