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

FlynnsHarp logo 042016

Baird enjoying growing fuss over his STOCK Act

Brian Baird spent half of his 12 years in Congress in a frustrated, and futile, effort to gather support for his legislation to make it illegal for lawmakers to engage in the kind of financial transactions that those in the real world know as Insider Trading and for which they can be sent to jail. He and one or two supporters offered it each session but couldn’t even get a committee hearing.

But Baird was able to look on with satisfaction when, a year after he decided to focus on family and not run for re-election, a late-2011 program on CBS' "60 Minutes" brought national attention to his idea and coined the phrase "Honest graft," meaning it was graft but it wasn't illegal. The program exposed how members of Congress and their staff traded stocks based on nonpublic information to which they had exclusive access.

Lawmakers by the dozens scurried like frightened rats to get aboard as supporters amid the public outcry the news program sparked and so in April of 2012, the measure titled the STOCK Act (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) was passed to finally bar members of Congress from doing stock transactions in areas they regulate.

Now Baird is watching with some amusement because, since Republican congressional leaders went out of their way in 2012 to quickly pass legislation extending the law to the president and vice president and those who worked for them, President-elect Donald Trump would be covered by the law. So he and his minions are seeking to exempt him from the law.

Newt Gingrich, explaining why ethics laws shouldn’t apply to Trump, even offered the view: "We've never seen this kind of wealth in the White House, and so traditional rules don't work…We're going to have to think up a whole new approach." He suggested that Congress change ethics laws so Trump can avoid any conflicts of interest that his global business empire may pose.

And Trump himself has said he is not subject to laws relating to conflict of interest.

Maybe so. But maybe not, since the Republicans who now control both houses of Congress may not wish to take early action on something that would allow critics the opportunity to point to the GOP lawmakers as being the lap dogs of the President. In other words, if they rolled over on command on the issue of ethics, what commands could they object to?

And Walter Shaub, director of the federal Office of Government Ethics (OGE), has issued a memo providing official guidance to Congress on the issue. His letter explained: “The Stock Act bars the President, the Vice President, and all executive branch employees from: using nonpublic information for private profit; engaging in insider trading; or intentionally influencing an employment decision or practice of a private entity solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation.”

But the President names the OGE director so once Trump moves into the Oval Office, it might be a good bet that Shaub will be replaced and that his successor will offer a quite different view.

Baird served six terms from Washington’s Third Congressional District before deciding in 2010 that his young family (he and his wife, Rachel Nugent’s, twin boys were 4 years old at the time), was more important than his battles in Congress. There was talk of his being targeted by the GOP if he had sought re-election, even though in his last four re-elections, none of his opponents could muster even 40 percent of the vote.

He says that while his family was the key reason he decided not to run again in 2010, other reasons included frustration over “the growing extremism and intransigence of many in the Republican party” and the “Democratic leadership showing little if any understanding of the concerns for centrist members from swing districts.”

Baird, who gained a doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Wyoming after graduating from the University of Utah, says of the emerging focus on the STOCK Act and its relevance to Trump:  “I'm just glad people are standing up for the bill now and trying to make sure it has the desired impact.”

But he finds it humorous that the growing attention to the law has brought a number of representatives and Senators who are being quoted about the brewing controversy as Trump’s inauguration nears and describing themselves as author of the law.

“As they say, success has many parents, even if they were nowhere near the conception,” Baird mused in an email to me.

The interviews by CBS reporter Steve Croft with then-House Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, his unexpected questions making Boehner look like someone hiding from the truth and Pelosi like someone too incompetent to even come across as thinking, should be part of every high school government class. The topic of the lecture in which the You Tube interviews were featured could be titled: “Who elects these people?”

The interviews are now difficult to find on You Tube because you have to subscribe to “60 Minutes.” Too bad.

The controversy over the STOCK Act and the soon-to-be Trump Administration isn’t currently getting a major focus from the media.

But a budding controversy could become a political brouhaha once a new president takes an action that would be illegal under the act.

Continue reading
  1732 Hits
  0 Comments
1732 Hits
0 Comments

Why preclude future voter revisit for ST-3?

When American poet John Greenleaf Whittier penned his memorable couplet "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: 'It might have been!'" it was an ode to the maiden in the field and the nobleman who rode by, noticed her, but decided not to stop. It was an ode to lost love but has become a reference point to remind individuals or groups about lost opportunity.
 
Thus ever since Puget Sound voters, almost a half century ago, briefly met at the ballot a light rail package from which they turned away, the "might have been" has been dangled like a badge of shame whenever a new rail-based transportation package is discussed.

After all, Atlanta got our federal funds and built a light-rail system.

 

 

The might-have-been lament is being played again this year in the Puget Sound area, among other arguments put forth by proponents of $54 billion ST-3, a proposal that would provide a 25-year basically blank check to Sound Transit to create a system that will connect an array of communities across three counties.

 

As posed at the start of his op-ed piece in the Seattle Times, my friend Charles Collins, whose background as a civic leader and transportation expert provide impeccable credentials for the integrity of his comments: "$54 billion. Really? The sheer size of Sound Transit 3 staggers the imagination. A Google search yields nothing remotely comparable ever asked of local voters...anywhere."

 

Collins went on to point out that Sound Transit's own statistics show it won't reduce congestion, despite its election-season claims. "Buried in Sound Transit's original Environmental Impact Statement is a very different story: their own analysis indicated that there would be no difference in congestion whether the rail system were built or not built."

 

One story for an environmental impact statement and another for the voters might seem dishonest. But the fact is, I and most citizens have a respect for the integrity of individual members of the board, each a local elected official in one of three counties.

 

But I'm equally convinced that as a board, the members' candor tends to give way to the group reality that commitment of major public dollars means major income to an array of contractors, architects, professional firms, and so on. And each makes campaign contributions to those board members when they run for re-election to their local offices, which is obviously the main function of each of those elected officials, with Sound Transit board membership a secondary, or supportive, duty.

 

That's why there should be no surprise in the story this week in the Seattle Times that 62 percent of the money for the campaign on behalf of ST-3 has come from contractors, engineers, suppliers, unions and others for whom the $54 billion would be an income and jobs windfall.

 

There are many who have made the points Collins made but I quote him primarily because his views were so cogently stated in his Times' op-ed piece and because, while others may be assailed for having vested interested in opposing ST-3, even proponents of the plan would concede there's not much way to try to question his credentials.

 

Collins, incidentally, was being a little generous in saying nothing similar has been asked of local voters. The fact is that the amount local voters here are being asked to approve with ST-3 is 25 percent greater than voters in the entire state of California approved in 1968 so 800 miles of high-speed rail lines connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco could be built. So the three-county proposal is greater than even the pricetag on the most costly plan put forward in the nation's largest state.

 

The California plan, naturally described to voters in 2008 as "visionary," is to whoosh riders from Southern California to San Fran in an unheard-of two hours and 40 minutes. The trains would reduce air pollution and ease congestion on the state's famously clogged freeways and construction would create tens of thousands of new jobs. So the voters approved $9.95 billion in bonds of the $43 billion plan to usher in a new era of transit for the Golden State.

 

But times have changed, and the recent past has been a rough time for the project. The latest poll shows that 59 percent of Californians would vote against the bonds if they could do it again. Cost estimates have grown from $43 billion to at least $98 billion, and the completion date of the first phase has been pushed back 13 years.

 

If ST-3 is approved and in a few years it becomes obvious that $54 billion and 25 years are dramatic underestimates, which would parallel what is happening in California, the same inability of the voters in this region to rethink what would have become a very bad idea will amount to the same unfulfillable wish to do it over.

 

In fact, there's a double down on the logic of a voter review somewhere, ideally as stages of the project are completed, and that's what Collins and others point to as it being obvious "that we are at the threshold of the most fundamental transportation revolution since the combustion engine."

 

Autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles may provide a chuckle to some, but to companies ranging from Ford to Google, there's full speed ahead with the knowledge that autonomous vehicles will be here with a prominent if not dominant transportation role.

And, as Collins notes in his op-ed piece, "Opinions vary on when self-driving (autonomous) vehicles will arrive in large numbers on American streets, some say in as little as five years, some say as many as 15. No one says 2040, the year ST3 is complete."

 

"What public policies and investments will be required to take advantage of self-driving technology?" Collins questions. "New lanes? Publicly owned fleets? Contracted services with the Googles, Fords and Ubers? But whatever makes sense, it is clear that approval of ST3 rail system will commandeer all reasonably available local transportation funds for a generation and preclude any chance to advance new technology."

 

That's why I find it intriguing, in a most troubling way, to have people I basically respect being absolutely adamant in insisting there's no reason that voters should have an opportunity to review the progress of a $54 billion quarter-century plan at various intervals.

Never mind that it might be an outdated transportation mode in a quarter century.

 

To echo the most compelling of Collins' comments: "Really?"
Continue reading
  1616 Hits
  0 Comments
1616 Hits
0 Comments

Key questions to ponder in education-funding battle

 

As legislators and their paid consultants struggle with how to answer the State Supreme Court’s latest education-funding question about determining “competitive market rates” for educators, a couple of thoughts press themselves to the fore as the drama moves toward a final act.

 

First, there’s an unfortunate sense that, in the press by the justices to make it clear to legislators which branch of government is ultimately in charge, what’s emerged is an effort to ensure that financial support of educators becomes the answer to education quality woes. No consideration is given to support for education in a broader sense.

 

Second, the well-worn phrase “You can’t just throw money at a problem” is one that seems to have eluded the state high court in its on-going education-funding struggle with the legislature over how much is enough.

 

At issue is the court’s January 2012 ruling, in what is now known as the McCleary case, that the legislature violated the state constitution by failing to amply fund basic education. Since then the court has found the lawmakers in contempt for not providing sufficient funding and has even threatened to take over the budgeting process (presenting what would seem to an amazing cartoonists’ opportunity).

 

Now the court has told the lawmakers to determine “competitive market rates” in terms of teacher salaries across the state and a final report on that point is due from a legislative consultant in November.

 

After that, lawmakers will try to find common ground on the sum of money required for salaries and where it is going to come from. The Legislature is supposed to take votes in 2017, or in the view of lawmakers in 2018, to put those final pieces in place in what has come to be known as the McCleary case.

 

Comes now the observation of Donald Nielsen, whom I best describe as an education “change agent,” whose views are dramatically suspect and irritating to those who disagree with him because he has no hidden agenda. He’s merely a business executive who made his fortune and decided nearly a quarter century ago to spend his time and money in the next phase of life seeking to make basic education better.

 

Nielsen is not an educator. But he is someone who is passionate about public education and has focused much of his attention on it since the early ‘90s, first traveling the country in search of education ideas that are working, then serving eight years on the Seattle School Board and a final year as president. His book, “Every School,” has brought his thoughts on education reform to the fore over the past couple of years in radio talk shows and newspaper interviews around the country.

 

“Schools do not have a funding problem, they have a regulatory problem,” Nielsen suggests. “If school administrators could spend their existing money as they believe is needed, they would spend it quite differently, and we would get better results.”   

 

His most in-your-face message is that “teachers are not underpaid, they are underemployed. This is not a compensation issue, it’s an employment issues.”

 

“The average teacher in Seattle, in 2013, was making $70,000 a year, employed  for 1320 hours,” he said. “All normal jobs employ people for 2080 hours a year so If that same teacher were employed for a normal year, his or her compensation would $110,300 a year on that 2080 basis.”

 

“Even beginning teachers who start at $40,000 a year are being paid the equivalent of $63,000 year,” he added. “In both cases, the teacher gets a benefit package that no private employer could afford to replicate.”  

 

Neither of these compensations is low,” Nielsen added.  “They are very competitive, and in rural areas, teachers are already among the best paid people in the community.”   

 

Discussion by the justices has never touched on suggesting the lawmakers focus on how the money is being spent, only how much is being spent, which makes another suggestion from Nielsen the kind of thing that at least might be in the discussion hopper.

 

“We need are variable contracts for teachers:  A nine month contract, a ten month contract and an eleven month contract, meaning the latter would make the $110,000 and the former would make the $70,000,” he said.  “Let the teachers decide what contract they want and let the district decide who gets each type of contract,” suggesting that approach could allow for some education options for different students.  

 

Unfortunately, it’s still uncertain whether the final act in this drama will be played out on the judicial or legislative stages since the nine justices of the state’s highest court have pressed the lawmakers, including with a contempt funding, to spend more dollars on education. At issue is the state’s constitutional mandate for adequate funding of basic education.

 

The justices, as far as I can tell, have never mentioned that lawmakers should also consider how the education dollars are being spent and could better education result from more insightful use of the dollars the lawmakers appropriate.

 

Maybe there’s still time, as the lines for the final act are just now being written in Olympia, for the idea of quality of expenditure rather than just quantity of expenditure to be raised.

 

In a case replete with issues relating to powerful education forces focused only on dollars, it might be worth combatants who finally seem hopeful of averting a real constitutional crisis to be aware of an unsettling statistic that Nielsen has included in his book.

In summing up the details of the chart in his book, Nielsen notes: “We now spend three times as much per child in inflation-adjusted dollars as we did in 1970 and we also have four times as many adults in our schools with only eight percent more children. And we’ve had no measurable improvement in academic achievement.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading
  1555 Hits
  0 Comments
1555 Hits
0 Comments

Sound Transit ballot plan faces emerging challenge

As Sound Transit marks its 20th birthday, it faces the biggest-ever threat to its future in the form of an emerging transportation alternative that may well cause voters in the three Central Puget Sound counties to reject the agency's $54 billion transportation package to allow the alternative time to develop.

Not even in their darkest nightmare would Sound Transit's board and the proponents of its megabillion-dollar ballot measure likely have envisioned the emergence of a growing fervor over a new transportation innovation just as the time for a November voter decision on dramatically extending the rail-based package nears.

The transportation innovation that's attracting increasing attention is autonomous vehicles, previously referred to as self-driving cars, with both automobile and truck manufacturers projecting emergence of fully autonomous vehicles within five years. And the Seattle area is being talked up as the nation's launch region for this development because companies like Google, Car2Go and ReachNow have committed to bring that about.

The challenge facing Sound Transit is that its proposal would put a lock on the region's transportation future for the next quarter century, tying it to a system for which rail is the keystone. By then autonomous vehicles and the congestion-easing result of their emergence might well render rail the transportation innovation of yesterday.

And the uncertainty surrounding the transportation future has created a growing sense, expressed not just by Sound Transit critics but also some longtime supporters, that rather than a full-blown package committing the region to a 25-year plan, a series of packages should be placed before the voters. The most recent example of growing concern over the measure called ST-3 was the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce board's decision Tuesday to oppose it.

Those pressing the idea of sending Sound Transit back to the drawing board would seek ballot proposals in staged packages, with a vote to provide funding for one segment, which would be followed by another vote when that project was completed, and so on. Then at any point, the voters could decide times have indeed changed and no more Sound Transit rail construction is desired.

As one of those longtime supporter put it when I called to get his candid thoughts: "If you are saying the voters should be offered segments of the total plan over a period of years as each prior segment is completed, of course that's logical."

But Sound Transit, officially the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority, formed in 1996 by the county councils of King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, is looking to corral all 25 years' worth of funding from voters. There is a clear Sound Transit reluctance to even contemplate going back to the drawing board.

As longtime Sound Transit critic, Bellevue developer and business leader Kemper Freeman Jr., sees it, Sound Transit realizes that ST-3 is likely the last time voters might be willing to consider a mega transportation package with taxes that will hit every property owner in the three counties. Too many things, including transportation alternatives and other uses for that massive property tax amount, are certain to emerge in future years.

Intriguingly, this is the second time in its 20 years that an alternative to Sound Transit's rail focus has been offered. Despite the business and political credentials of the five people who teamed up, a year after Sound Transit began operation, to suggest a lower-cost and more efficient idea than the then-planned $1.6 billion Link Light Rail, the idea was basically brushed aside back in 2000.

The plan was called Ride Free Express, offered by two former governors John Spellman, a Republican, and Democrat Booth Gardner, along with John Runstad and Matt Griffin, two well-regarded business leaders, and Charles Collins, one of the region's long-respected transportation experts.

The plan would have eliminated fares for existing as well an expanded express bus fleet and created vanpools, reducing peak congestion by 5 percent at a price a sixth of the cost of new riders on Sound Transit's Link Light Rail, "even assuming they could build, LINK for the original $1.6 billion," Collins said. A recent Seattle Times analysis showed that in the end LINK wasn't built for that price, actually exceeding its budget by 87 percent.

"All of our projections, including that our plan would attract six times the number of new riders, flowed from well-established and independent market studies or actual transit experience," Collins notes. "Not a single board member except Rob McKenna thought that the issues we raised were even slightly interesting."

"They were committed to a project whereas we wanted to reduce congestion," Collins summarized pointly.

"Nothing has changed," said Collins, whose credentials include having been Spellman's Chief King County Adminstrator, Director of Metro Transit and chair of the Northwest Power Planning Council, the State Higher Education Coordinating Board and the State Commission on Student Learning.

Indeed while Sound Transit operates express bus services in addition to rail and light rail service to the region, there has been little doubt in the community that members of the board view themselves as creators of the region's light rail system.

Sound Transit and its proponents have routinely tried to picture the opposition as primarily Kemper Freeman., since a wealthy Eastside businessman makes an easy target for those Seattlites who view rail as something approaching Holy Grail. 

Collins, with impeccable credentials for public service, business success and transportation expertise, as well as being a decorated Vietnam veteran and retired Army Reserve Brigadier General, makes an opponent who many Sound Transit believers will find it uncomfortable to attack.

"If we are committed for 25 years and a good idea like autonomous van pools takes shape, good luck since the bond attorneys have made sure the money can't be diverted," Collins told me. "And autonomous van pools would be a good idea and could also be an energy answer."

Freeman sought this year to boost his years-long campaign for roads over rails with report he funded called Mobility 21 that outlined a fact-based alternative to the existing long-range plans. He has presented Mobility 21 at an array of speaking engagements around the region. 
Freeman told me the first presentation on the Mobility 21 study was made to officials of the Puget Sound Regional Council, which oversees dispensing federal dollars to the four counties.

"They admitted to us that the idea of autonomous cars had never been envisioned in their 25-year plan," freeman said.

Will autonomous vehicles become an ubiquitous presence on the region's roadways soon? Of course not. But technological advancements, including accident-avoidance devices, in vehicles before that happens will enhance congestion-reductions efforts. And some such technological advances could require commitment of dollars from the public, which would be more difficult to draw out if $54 billion in taxes is still being imposed.

And it's interesting that Daimler Trucks North America CEO Martin Daum talked recently about how he allowed a robotic truck to drive him nearly 25 miles, without his ever touching the steering wheel or brakes. He said his digital pilot used a combination of GPS, map data and sensors to drive the autonomous truck across highways and two-way streets.

And Freeman admitted to me, in one interview, that he has taken a half dozen trips, logging up to 125 miles, both freeway and city streets, with his autonomous Tesla. He said his hands were poised beneath the steering wheel in case his intervention was needed, bur that he never actually had his hands on the wheel.

Freeman and other ST-3 opponents haven't yet been seeking slogans for the final months of their campaign, but given the new realities facing the $54 billion plan, it could be referred at this time as "not a sound plan."
 
Continue reading
  1832 Hits
  0 Comments
1832 Hits
0 Comments

Reflections: Brexit, out-of-touch High Court ruling, talk of 28th Amendment

It was well over a year ago that my brother, a retired Spokane small-business owner, began telling me, in support of the Donald Trump phenomenon, “Mike, you don’t understand, the silent majority is roaring.” My response was always, “I hear the roar, but it’s a minority made up of those unsettled by the murky mix of terrorism and immigration policies and angered by their lack of influence, or even contact, with the establishment.”

Then came last week’s Brexit vote, where the English version of folks I described turned out to be the majority, leaving establishment leaders of both major parties in this country to ponder whether what’s at stake is a desire to throw out the system rather than merely overturn particular politicians or policies. And what that means come November.

Or for the future. Thus perhaps an appropriate time to ponder questions as Independence Day approaches

Now a week following the blow to the U.K. comes a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court almost certain to fuel anger at the established order, the court making it harder to prosecute public officials for corruption by basically saying it’s ok for “the system” to include paying elected officials to influence their decisions.

At issue was the case of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, who was convicted by a lower court of using his office to help a businessman who had provided McDonnell and his wife with luxury products, loans and vacations worth more than $175,000 when Mr. McDonnell was governor.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, narrowed the definition of what sort of conduct can serve as the basis of a corruption prosecution. He wrote that “routine political courtesies like arranging meetings or urging underlings to consider a matter generally, even when the people seeking those favors give the public officials gifts or money,” do not represent corruption.

The alternative to the new limits, Roberts wrote, would be to criminalize routine political behavior. “Conscientious public officials arrange meetings for constituents, contact other officials on their behalf and include them in events all the time,” he wrote. All the time! Isn’t that the problem?

By now readers of this column have likely concluded that the usual focus on people, companies and issues that relate the Northwest is being upstaged to Harp about some personal thoughts on an issue that impacts us in this region, but that transcends us.

Fodder for thought following Brexit, for those who care to think, is offered by The Los Angeles Times‘ Vincent Bevins: “Since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.”

It has to be hoped that the revolt is aimed at reconstructing rather than destructing the Democratic process. But that may not be certain.

A quote from author and MSNBC commentator Chris Hayes is getting attention on social media in the wake of the Brexit vote.

“The mechanism that western citizens are expected to use to express and rectify dissatisfaction – elections – has largely ceased to serve any correction function. When Democracy is preserved only in form, structured to change little to nothing about power distribution, people naturally seek alternatives for the redress of their grievances, particularly when they suffer.”

Coincident with the post-Brexit analysis have come a couple of group emails in which I was included, both suggesting that the idea of change by the ballot isn’t being totally abandoned. Both related to a focus on the 28th amendment to the U.S. constitution and both widely popular but not yet widely promoted.

The first relates to ongoing discussion about an amendment to overturn Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that held political expenditures by corporations could not be limited.

Polls show the efforts for a 28th Amendment to overturn Citizens United is supported by more than 75 percent of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents and sixteen states have enacted 28th Amendment resolutions.

The other idea gathering support as a proposed 28th amendment: "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."

It strikes me that this idea could generate some positive action from voters by, between now and the November General Election, insisting every member of Congress on the ballot, as well as every state legislator, commit to voting in favor of the constitutional change next year. Or bite the bullet as voters and vote for the opponent, regardless of ideological compatability.

There are examples of the manner in which a fed-up public can bring a positive focus to their anger and bring about beneficial change within the system.

 

One such example was actually the result of an idea of someone from inside “the system,” then-Washington congressman Brian Baird, who during the last three of his six terms as the representative from the state’s third district sought to gather support in Congress for what he called the “Stock Act.”

 

Baird sought to prevent members of Congress from doing stock transactions in areas they regulate, in essence, prohibiting their investing in a manner that those in the real world call Insider Trading.

 

I wrote about it in a November, 2011, column after a program on CBS’ “60 Minutes” brought national attention to Baird’s idea with a program titled “Honest graft.”

 

For ordinary citizens, reaction to Baird's proposal would be a laughable "well, of course." But in a place whose mantra is "the rules we make for you don't apply to us," seeking to force action by the lawmakers on one small, self-imposed ethical constraint could become a rallying point for a fed-up public.

 

The thrust of the CBS segment was that lawmakers often made stock purchases and trades in the very fields they regulate. While ordinary citizens could be jailed for engaging in the kind of investment shenanigans that those in Congress involve themselves in, there's wasn’t even an ethical concern among lawmakers.

 

Reporter Steve Croft questioned then-House Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi at their respective news conferences. And the ineptitude with which both Boehner and Pelosi tried to answer Croft's questions about whether their investment practices were at least conflicts of interest, the thought that had to occur was "Who elects these people?" The answer, unfortunately, is people like us elect them. And both have continued to be elected. Shame on us. And so maybe a revolt wouldn’t be that bad.

 

As a result of the outcry following the program and You Tube pieces on the congressional leaders’ confused responses, the Stock Act was passed overwhelmingly in the spring of 2012 with what observers described as “vulnerable congressmen” at the forefront of supporters. So now Members of Congress and employees of Congress are prohibited from using private information derived from their official positions for personal benefit, and for other purposes.

 

Baird had already retired by then, having decided not to seek a seventh term, thus exemplifying one of the concerns about the future of the Democracy as currently operating: The Nancy Pelosis remain in office and the Brian Bairds decide to leave.

 

 



Continue reading
  1803 Hits
  0 Comments
1803 Hits
0 Comments

Oregon ballot measure would dramatically boost business taxes

Just as the races for state and national offices in the November General Election may demonstrate that anger can trump reason, voters in Oregon will be faced with deciding a ballot measure that will test whether anger at big business over things like soaring executive compensation exceeds logic.

At issue is IP28 (Initiative Petition), which targets Oregon's biggest corporations — roughly 1,000 by the state's estimates, or about 4 percent of businesses. Those with $25 million in Oregon sales would pay a minimum $30,000 tax, plus 2.5 percent on anything above that threshold.

In essence, it would be a tax on gross receipts, like Washington’s business & occupation tax, generating an estimated $6 billion in new revenue. Except in Oregon it would be in addition to the tax on personal and corporate income and would boost corporate tax collections more than five-fold.

As my friend Don Brunell put it in his latest column, which alerted me to the fact the measure had been cleared for the November ballot by collecting the required 130,000 signatures, “Washington’s next economic development plan may be written by Oregon voters next November.”

His point was that “Oregon voters need to remember that Washington and California have heavy concentrations of large businesses and stand to benefit from passage of IP28 and that while all parts of Washington would gain, the corridor between Vancouver and Longview could be the biggest winner.”

Brunell, retired president of Association of Washington Business, in his more than a quarter century at the helm of the state’s largest business association saw all the off-the-wall ideas for taxing business. But it’s as a longtime observer that he shakes his head at this proposal, noting the tax scheme “would transform Oregon from one of the nation’s lowest business-tax-burden states to one of the nation’s highest.”

Organizations that purchase products and services from those major businesses would undoubtedly see their costs increase and thus would need to increase their price for items resold to Oregon consumers. In response to this, businesses purchasing goods in Oregon may opt to leave the state or relocate some or all of their facilities to avoid the increased cost of doing business in that state.

IP28 is sponsored by Better Oregon, a labor union coalition led by the Oregon Education Association, and targets “big business”.  Proponents claim it would tap a tiny portion of Oregon businesses while bringing a huge revenue boost to cash-strapped public education, health care and senior services.

The non-partisan Legislative Revenue Office, in evaluating similar proposals to IP28, has forecast job losses should a gross receipt tax pass.

Former Washington Gov. Mike Lowry, who despite being perhaps Washington’s most liberal governor carried an understanding of the importance of nurturing big businesses as the creators of better-paying jobs, offered his classic belly laugh when I called him for his thoughts on the initiative.

“We always looked to Oregon for progressive ideas but this would represent the total opposite,” Lowry said. “The gross-receipts tax is about the worst tax there is.”

Amusingly, Lowry understood how to use the tax as a whip. In his first year in office he sought to have the Democrat-controlled legislature extend Washington’s sales tax to service businesses like law and accounting firms, which used their lobbying clout to beat back the effort.

But they paid a price by having the lawmakers impose the highest b&o tax rate on services, a payback in the form of a 2.5 percent rate, which though now reduced to 1.5 percent remains the state’s highest rate, reserved for service businesses and professional gambling.

Most gross receipts tax rates around the country are relatively low when compared with the Oregon proposal’s 2.5 percent rate. In Washington, it ranges from 0.138 percent to the aforementioned 1.5 percent. Thus if the measure were to pass, the tax burden of operating in Oregon would increase dramatically when compared with other states.

Proponents argue that “IP28 would modestly raise the effective tax rate of large corporations and use the added revenue to fund Oregon's crippled public school system, provide services to seniors, and extend health care coverage to 18,000-plus children.”

Problem is if it comes to be marketed to voters as “the big-business tax,” the result could be that anger overrides common sense for voters, among whom would be many that would face loss of their jobs if the analysis of business reaction proves true.

The ballot proposal comes as raising taxes on wealthy individuals and large corporations is at the forefront of a national debate — especially among Democratic progressives, including much of Oregon's electorate— about how to close the gap of economic disparities between rich and poor in the post-Great Recession era.

And if there is a doubt that anger at big business underlies the measure, and leaves concern about the logic voters will bring when they mark their ballots, supporters point to the current difference between growth in corporate profits vs. growth in family income in Oregon. They say it’s time big business takes on its fair share of the tax burden to help pay for education and social services.

Business people in Southwest Washington are not only looking to gain business if the measure is approved, they are having some amusement thinking about it.

When I talked with longtime Vancouver businessman Michael Worthy about it, he chuckled and offered that the two-state effort to agree on financing a new I-5 bridge across the Columbia could be solved by letting firms that would want to move operations out of Oregon might want to pay for improved transportation they’d need.

And when I asked Brunell why he thinks intelligent voters would go for a tax that would likely impact them, and perhaps their jobs, he replied: “I suspect, knowing Oregon a little better by living down here in Vancouver, there is a reason for the bumper sticker: ‘Keep Portland Weird.’” 

Continue reading
  1825 Hits
  0 Comments
1825 Hits
0 Comments

Arrival of federal crowdfunding gives start-up companies options

Almost four years overdue, federal crowdfunding rules went into effect last week to fulfill a 2012 Congressional mandate to "democratize" the process by which entrepreneurs and small businesses can raise start-up capital from "the crowd" of investors of average means.

Some cynics might view as "Democracy in action" the fact that it took almost four years for the Securities and Exchange Commission to come up with the rules that Congress originally gave it 180 days to enact so the legislation known as the Jumpstarts Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act could go into effect.

But the upside of the years of delay was that almost half of the states, including Washington, were spurred to seize the opportunity to come up with intrastate versions of the crowdfunding concept. As a result entrepreneurs in most states have the choice of federal or state regulations to use in seeking start-up capital from average investors, a choice that would likely not have come to pass without the SEC's foot dragging.

And in fact, the act's regulatory debut of 17 federal filings the first day was characterized as "pretty impressive" by Faith Anderson, the respected Registration and General Counsel Program Manager in the Securities Division of the state Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).

How the individual states have fared in the responses to their crowdfunding legislation has depended on a number of factors. Oregon, for example, because it has a non-profit dedicated to helping entrepreneurs through the process, has had good reviews.

Montana, on the other hand, has an unusual constraint that requires that half of a startups' business must be done in Montana.

"Makes it a pretty small prospective market," quipped Liz Marchi, the Kalispell-based leader of three Montana angel funds.

Before its crowdfunding legislation was approved last year, Montana was already rated the top state in the nation for start-up businesses on the Kauffman Index, the annual state ranking of startups by the Kauffman Foundation, largest entrepreneurship-focused non-profit in the country.

Marchi, who is finding enough entrepreneurs already emerging in the Big Sky Country, is not a big fan of crowdfunding for entrepreneurs, saying "I plan to stay away until all the unintended consequences have been worked out."

Meanwhile, Oregon's non-profit called Hatch Oregon, which travels around the state vetting startups it works with, is getting positive attention from startups there for what amounts to an incubator that seeks to guide entrepreneurs past the financial rocks and shoals of the crowdfunding game.

Hatch, whose platform hosts 10 of the 11 offerings filed in Oregon so far, offers no guarantee to the companies it works with. The incubator also produced a video called "Let's Be Frank" that tries to outline the risks in plain language.

Washington has no such entity to inexpensively help entrepreneurs along the road toward fundraising. But regulators have sought to put in place a program that helps guide startups to produce a document that ensures they are in compliance with securities laws, that investors are protected and entrepreneurs themselves are steered away from possible future liabilities.

The intent is an entrepreneur could be helped through the process without having to necessarily incur the expense of an attorney.

But the fact not all startups want to be so carefully guided is evident by the fact that one of two companies filing under the crowdfunding law got considerable media attention by lamenting that its efforts to get the paperwork done and get to fundraising was being hung up in red tape.

The sense is that what the filing firm viewed as "red tape" was insistence by state regulators that all the requirements be met, and one of the challenges for startup hopefuls is that not all attorneys understand the law and its regulatory requirements at this point.

One nagging aspect of the SEC rules in place that govern the crowdfunding laws of all the states is something known as Rule 147, referred to as the "intrastate offering" exemption, which has strict requirements that intrastate offerings be contained within the boundaries of a single state. In other words, an entrepreneur filing under the Washington State law not only can't take money from the resident of another state, but the resident of another state isn't even to see the offering.

So far, the SEC has been firm in the view that if someone in another state sees the information on the offering, it is no longer intrastate, which would basically nullify the fund-raising effort.

Anderson, chair of the Small Business/Limited Offerings Project Group of the National Securities Administrators Association, produced a report some months ago for the securities departments of all 50 states that was critical of Rule 147 and its impact on entrepreneurs.

The SEC has apparently gotten enough push back from the states on that constraint that, as Michelle Webster, financial legal examiner for DFI, explained, the SEC has several proposals, which are currently merely proposals it will consider that would amend the JOBS Act rules. One that would address that almost universal Rule 147 irritant would allow intrastate visibility for an offering as long as only residents of the filing company's state were permitted to invest.

But the fact is there is no timeline for the SEC to actually act on proposed amendments to rule 147. And some suggest the agency might never act since they do not have a Congressional push to do so.

Joe Wallin, a Seattle attorney with Carney Badley Spellman, who basically wrote the state legislation that created the crowdfunding law in this state, has been critical of the fact that those assisting entrepreneurs to raise funds cannot legally charge a fee representing a percentage of dollars raised unless licensed as a broker-dealer.

That's a federal restriction and Wallin is convinced an easing of that rule would find a lot of individuals and groups stepping forward to provide fee-based assistance based on a percentage of the dollars raised rather high hourly fees.

Washington' Securities Administrator, Bill Beatty, suggested that from now forward, with both federal and state options open to would-be crowdfunders, to be determined is: "will the federal model, which requires the use of licensed portals, or the typical state model, which allows issuers to conduct the offering, be more attractive?"

The sense has been that the cost of using a licensed portal could be a substantial slice of the $1 million that a crowdfunding startup would be permitted to raise the first year. But Beatty said he has gotten the sense of more reasonable pricing from some portal operators.

"If the costs prove to be reasonable, I think federal crowdfunding has a much better chance of gaining traction and being a useful tool for some small businesses," he said.

Continue reading
  1861 Hits
  0 Comments
1861 Hits
0 Comments

Confederate 'stars and bars' remains honored in Brazil where southerns migrated after war

As the battle rages over the future visibility role, if any, for the flag of the confederacy, one place the stars and bars will remain honored and celebrated is in Brazil, where Confederates created colonies after the Civil War at the invitation of the Brazilian emperor and proceeded to make a lasting mark on that nation's culture. 

That little-known Civil War chapter is the subject of a book by one of my closest friends, Gary Neeleman, that is to be published in Brazil in Portuguese before year end and negotiations are proceeding to have it published soon thereafter in English in the United States. 

When published in English, the book could be a timely addition to the current discussion, including both the legitimate effort to minimize future display of the Confederate battle flag and the less logical disparagement of Confederate heroes like Robert E. Lee and anything relating to the citizens of the Confederacy. 

Neeleman's Gary and Rose Neeleman research over the past 40 years through aged documents, old letters and newspaper clips brings him to conclude that history not racial hatred, pride not prejudice, were the driving force for those who migrated to Brazil rather than again become part of the United States.

My friendship with Neeleman, 81, extends back more than 40 years, beginning with our more than a decade as executives at United Press International. And I've been struck by his perpetual zeal to evangelize "the spiritual link between the United States and Brazil." While a focus of this column is on Neeleman's book on the Confederate migration, because of its timeliness, the column is really more about the journalist who built a lifelong love affair with Brazil and its people and has left his imprint on the nation, where his contributions will be honored in a few weeks in San Paulo. 

But to first finish the story of the Confederates, obviously, no slaves accompanied the some 7,000 "Confederado" families in the 1866 migration, in which they were personally greeted by Emperor Dom Pedro II upon their arrival in their new home. But interestingly, the southerners avoided acquiring slaves in Brazil, a country where slaves were more common at that time than in virtually any country in the world. 

Neeleman notes that when leaders of the more than 20,000 southerners who founded two communities in Brazil were asked about the fact they didn't have slaves, they replied that they no longer wanted to own people but preferred to employ them "so we can fire them if they don't do their job." 

The southerners, many of them from the most important and prominent families in the southern part of the United States, established the cities of Americana and Santa Barbara do Este. And, as Neeleman notes, for 150 years the descendants of those Confederate communities have gathered annually to celebrate their heritage at the Cemetario de Campo, the old cemetery where about 2,000 Confederate soldiers and their families have been buried. And the Stars and Bars that were the Confederate Battle Flag were and have remained highly visible there, some Confederates actually being buried wrapped in the flag. 

He recalls the year he was asked to help arrange for former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, as well as aide Jody Powell to attend the Confederate picnic at the cemetery and how "they sat at the cemetery, sang Dixie and all three had tears streaming down their faces." 

"That portion of American history and the stories of the 'Confederadoes' are lost in a linguistic tomb because Portuguese is a barrier to entry for those seeking to explore history," explains Neeleman. who hopes those stories in English will bring a closer look in this country at that history. 

Neeleman routinely refers to "the two giants of the Western Hemisphere" and his research on Brazil and its people has actually resulted in not just a book on the Confederate but also two other books that emphasize the ties between the two nations. One already published, "Tracks in the Amazon," details the construction of a railroad through the jungle, at a cost of thousands of lives, to bring goods from Bolivia, down the Amazon to the coast. The other book tells the also little-known story of how Brazilian rubber saved the allied war effort in World War II after Japanese victories in the South Pacific captured the Indonesian rubber fields that represented about 98 percent of the world's rubber production at that time. Restoring brazilian rubber production was vital to the Allied success. 

It was in the early '60s that UPI plucked Neeleman, as a young reporter from Salt Lake City, and sent him to Brazil, where he had learned Portuguese as a young Mormon missionary. His regard for Brazil and Brazilians developed quickly and three of his seven children were born there, including David, whose launch of Azul as his third airline, following Morris Air and Jet Blue, has resulted in the fastest-growing carrier in Brazil. During the 1963 Pan American Games in San Paulo, Neeleman recalled being struck by the conduct of U.S. athletes who played what he described as "the Ugly Americans," overwhelmingly defeating their South American opponents and treating them with disdain following the competition.

"I made up my mind right there that I would someday do something about that attitude," Neeleman told me. And so he did when, after returning to Salt lake City, he called upon the close-knit Utah coaches to help him put together a college basketball post-season tour of South America. 

That tour, with Neeleman acting as scheduler, accommodations arranger and bag-boy, became an NCAA post-season fixture and Neeleman became a regular luncheon speaker each year at the NCAA tournament. 

Gary and Rose travel to Brazil about three times a year and when they're not traveling on personal or client business, or traveling to the Brazilian back country as part of their research for his books, he's doing Brazil's business as honorary counsel in Salt Lake City. 

One of those trips was last September when he received an unusual honor as the fourth recipient of an award whose English translation is Citizen of San Paulo. Others who preceded him as recipients of the honor named for the State of San Paulo were the Pope, the Dalai Lama and the founder of the Mormon Church in Brazil. Add Neeleman to the list.

Continue reading
  2400 Hits
  0 Comments
2400 Hits
0 Comments

LSDF may metamorphose into life science, cancer research administrator

Recrimination and agitation over the Republican-led legislative defunding of the Life Science Discovery Fund Authority (LSDF) has given way to cautious enthusiasm about the possibility its staff and board may be tapped to administer and oversee funding activity for the state's new Cancer Research and Endowment Fund (CREA).

It's not yet certain that LSDF, created a decade ago out of the state's share of Tobacco Settlement millions to promote growth of the life science industry in this state, will take over administration of what would be a Center of Excellence for Life Science and Cancer Research. But bringing that about could amount to creating some vision out of what has been legislative confusion.

The Legislature's 2015 final budget compromise funded the cancer-research entity in a head-scratching manner while killing future funding for LSDF. But the lawmakers did not put the organization itself out of business because LSDF must function well into the next biennium to oversee fulfillment of the 46 grants already awarded from the fund. It just can't make any more life-science grants.

The quixotic aspect of the Legislature's creation of CREA was that the lawmakers gave specific detail to its board makeup and duties and required that it contract with "a program administrator" to oversee grant solicitation and distribution and fund management.
 
But lawmakers didn't designate who would manage the $10 million annual state-fund grant that would have to be matched from the private sector before it could be spent, so there has been speculation since then that LSDF would be a logical entity to oversee CREA.
 
Rep. Jeff Morris 

The proposal to turn cancer-fund administration over to LSDF has been up in the air since it was approved by the state House and passed out of committee in the Senate, but stalled in the Senate Ways & Means committee when the regular session ended.

Democratic Rep. Jeff Morris, a member of the LSDF board and sponsor of the proposal, said he hopes the legislation paving the way for a new role for LSDF will be part of final budget negotiations. He explained that Sen. Andy Hill, chair of the Ways & Means Committee and the key Republican in the negotiations, "asked if we would object to a 6 percent administrative-cost cap and I indicated we would not."

John DesRosier 
eanwhile, as a future role for LSDF remains unclear, its board of trustees, staff members and a number of recipients of its grants will gather March 25 to celebrate the contributions of John DesRosier, who served first as director of programs when LSDF was established in 2005, and through most of the Authority's existence as executive director. DesRosier, who has retired, had spent almost a quarter century in research and technology commercialization before joining LSDF as it was forming.

Among those who will be on hand to thank Des Rosier is Lee Huntsman, the first executive director, who was appointed by then-Gov. Christine Gregoire after LSDF was established in 2005 by Gregoire and the Legislature.

I asked Gregoire for a comment on the decade of LSDF's existence and on DesRosier's role and she said: "LSDF has accomplished more than I could have hoped. I believe it has helped save lives and I believe it will continue doing so and there is no greater accomplishment. We were fortunate to have John DesRosier as the leader to make it happen."

Commenting on DesRosier's role guiding LSDF, Morris said "John was one of the best strategic hires I've seen by our state in my years of public service. He made our grant-selection process world class and many other states have looked to our process to improve their own performance"

Part of what the cancer-fund legislation envisions is a board that better reflects an understanding of cancer, but by coincidence that comes somewhat with the current board, whose chair is Carol Dahl, executive director of the Portland-based Lemelson Fund. 

Dahl's research while a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh was cancer focused and she also spent nearly six years at the National Cancer Institute and built the Office of Technology and Industrial Relations and multiple programs there during that period. 

Asked about her view of DesRosier's role, she said he"has truly been an amazing advocate for the life sciences in Washington and an outstanding steward of the state's investment in LSDF."

"The substantial impact of the LSDF funding resulting in over $60 million in health-care saving, more than a half billion in follow-on funding, and hundreds of lives saved ,is a credit to John's leadership and the dedication of the entire staff that has supported  LSDF since its inception," Dahl said.

One of the largest grants from LSDF was $5 million to Omeros Corp., which related to a $20 million partnership with Vulcan to advance the company's leading-edge G protein-coupled receptor program. GPCRs, which mediate key physiological processes in the body, are one of the most valuable families of drug targets.

Omeros chairman and CEO, Dr. Gregory Demopulos, described LSDF as "an important catalyst for innovation in Washington State's life sciences. And through investments like the one for Omeros has left a legacy of creating jobs and improving health and will have a sustained impact on the people of the state."

DesRosier described LSDF as having been a "critical resource" in helping early stage companies survive so they could gain traction for new sources of funding, including attracting traditional investors.
 
One such beneficiary of LSDF grants is M3 Biotechnology, a young Seattle biotech company focused on commercializing a drug that would reverse neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's by re-growing brain cells.
 
"LSDF funding allowed us to cross the start-up 'valley of death' until we could gain funding traction," said Leen Kawas, the 30-year-old CEO and president of M3 who recently announced completion of an over-subscribed A-Round that brought in nearly $10 million.

Because I was assisting Kawas with marketing and introductions while she was awaiting key grants from LSDF, I bit my lip for being unable to write about LSDF or its challenges with the legislature until her grants had been approved and there was no longer a conflict of interest.

I asked DesRosier if there was anything he wished LSDF had accomplished before the lawmakers struck it from future funding.

"I wish we had been able to create a more diversified revenue stream and not be dependent solely on state funding," he said.

Dr. Bruce Montgomery, perhaps the Northwest's most prominent biotech entrepreneur as well as the longest-term member of the LSDF board, may have best summed up the feeling of lost opportunity that the end of LSDF's life-science mission embodied for many.

"The best quote I can offer is the line from Joni Mitchell's 'Big Yellow Taxi': 'don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone,'" Montgomery replied to my request for a quote.
Continue reading
  1476 Hits
  0 Comments
1476 Hits
0 Comments

Remembering introduction to alternative medicine and ancient herb artemisinin

Small things sometimes serve to guide memories of major events in our lives, and so it is as I near the five-year mark of my first contact with alternative medicine. It came about as I was commencing a search for information on how I might best deal with a slow-growing prostate cancer.

A search for information on dealing with a cancer for which there is time to weigh approaches inevitably leads to exploration of both traditional medicine and alternatives that involve nature's role.

And it was as I pursued that examination of all my options before deciding on my preferred approach that I met a naturopathic physician, Dr. Eric Yarnell, then on the faculty of Bastyr University, and learned of artemisinin, an extract derived from an ancient Chinese herb called artemisia annua.

I had known a little about alternative medicine, but learning of artemisinin, also known as sweet wormwood, and the fact that it was being viewed as a cancer-fighting agent caused me to want to learn more both about the herb and about Bastyr, which is one of the most respected naturopathic universities in the nation.

In the end, thanks partly to the advise of Yarnell (advise that some have viewed as ironic, given the naturopathic focus on natural therapies), I had surgery to remove the prostate. But I have since learned more about naturopathic medicine and kept in touch with the potential health benefits of nature's products, like artemisinin, and studies relating to their potential to fight not just cancer, but also other diseases.

Paul Amieux 
Bastyr University 

I was reminded of the introduction to alternative medicine and artemisinin recently as I was reading about the Nobel Prize awarded last fall to an 85-year-old Chinese scientist named Youyou Tu for developing treatment for malaria from artemisinin, which has become the norm for malaria treatmemt worldwide.

Reading the story of the aging Chinese pharmaceutical chemist's award, which capped her 49-year search for a cure for malaria and her research that guided her to Artemisinin (which she first encountered in a 1,600-year-old text) caused me to wonder what progress had been made in bringing traditional and alternative medicine closer.

At the time, as I shared my explorations of alternative medicine with my doctors at the Polyclinic in Seattle and at University of Washington Medical Center, medical professionals in whom I had maximum trust and regard, I learned that they then had only a vague awareness of alternative medicine.

So I recently set about learning what has changed in awareness and understanding across medicine's diverse landscape in the past few years.

For one thing, the word "alternative" is disappearing, as evidenced by the fact that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has rebranded as the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

For another, there is a growing willingness on the part of traditional medical centers to pursue joint research projects with non-traditional medical institutions. That has been particularly true since the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has begun grants to traditional and non-traditional partnerships in an array of collaborative research grants, particularly relating to cancer.

In addition, in the Seattle area and East King County, the presence of an estimated 100,000 resident who are from the Indian subcontinent has brought a focus on Ayurveda Medicine, which has historic roots in that region, as another type of alternative medicine.

"Alternative meant separate from or in lieu of, but they are no longer viewed as two different medical worlds, but rather as integrated, taking the best of both," said Paul Amieux, Ph.D., Bastyr's Research Administrative Director. He actually is an intriguing example of integrative medicine as a graduate of University of Washngton Medical School with a Ph.D in pharmacology and a BA in biology. Thereafter he was an instructor at the UW medical school for a time.

I asked Amieux for a rundown of clinical trials at respected research universities here and around the world where early clinical trials are being conducted on the possible effect of artemisinin on various forms of cancer.

Among the trials are one at Georgetown on intravenous delivery for solid tumors, another at St. George University of London on oral delivery for colorectal cancer and one at University Hospital Ghent, Belgium, a safety study exploring the impact of escalating dosage in liver-cancer patients.

"Although there are indeed phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials currently running and some individual case reports, there is no definitive clinical evidence of artemisinin's effectiveness from large, Phase 3, controlled clinical trials," Amieux said. "But there are clearly basic science publications that indicate it may effectively kill some types of cancer cells in the labs."

There's always a risk when a layman goes seeking to understand the intricacies of how medicine works. But I couldn't help wanting to learn why and how artemisinin might be a cancer fighter, in addition to already being the worldwide treatment of choice for malaria.

What I learned was that what some have described as artemisinin's "significant anti-cancer effect" is due, according those who undertand to the fact it contains peroxide. And research suggests that when peroxide comes in contact with cells having high iron concentrations, it breaks down, creating free radicals that basically provide overdoses of iron to iron-accumulating malaria and cancer cells.

I also learned, as I delved into alternative medicine, about mushrooms, which were then already being seen in a different light, and studies of the suggested impact of different kinds of mushrooms on different cancers have advanced since then. But mushrooms and cancer is a topic for a different day, particularly relating to collaborative studies funded by NIH, and a specific one involving UW, Cancer Care Alliance, The Hutch and Bastyr, a study whose results have not yet been published.
Continue reading
  1532 Hits
  0 Comments
1532 Hits
0 Comments

Concerns about Internet advertising may make crowdfunding tool difficult for entrepreneurs

It was born with great flourish in the spring of 2012, passed by Congress and signed by the president and hailed as the wellspring of new companies and jobs as the nation sought to emerge from the Great Recession. In fact, with a marketer's touch in a presidential election year, it was even called the JOBs Act.

Now after a nearly four-year wait for a recalcitrant Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt the rules required to implement the intent of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act to allow businesses to raise up to $1 million a year from a large number of small-equity investors, the rules are set to go into effect May 16.


Meanwhile, more than half of the states, tired of waiting for the SEC to act, have adopted their own versions of what is known as crowdfunding, which is largely expected to be Internet outreach to large numbers of potential investors by entrepreneurs seeking capital.

Because of SEC rules in effect under the Securities Act of 1933, the states' legislation limits fund-raising to residents in the state where the business is located.


And with the arrival of federal crowdfunding comes a growing concern that the crowdfunding laws of the various states may be rendered "impractical" since those who use the Internet or social media, the logical tools to reach a "crowd" of prospects, must ensure no one in another state can see the offering.

Washington was one of the first states to enact legislation to permit crowdfunding, with many of those testifying during the Washington Department of Financial Institutions' rule-making process suggesting entrepreneurs would be queuing up to look to crowdfunding to raise money.

But despite that expectation, in the 15 months since DFI enacted the rules and the law went into effect, only two businesses have filed to raise money in this state via crowdfunding. In fact, according to DFI Director Scott Jarvis, only 100 companies around the country have used intrastate crowdfunding to raise capital.

 
Joe Wallin 
Thus given that there is no line of entrepreneurs forming to seize the crowdfunding opportunity, there is no certainty how much demand there will be for the opportunity to raise money through crowdfunding once entrepreneurs have a choice between federal and state rules. The federal will allow businesses to raise money from investors anywhere in the country rather just in their home state. Using state law requires entrepreneurs to only raise money intrastate. 

One reason for slower-than-anticipated interest could be that the resurgent economy has made it easier to raise money through traditional funding sources, suggests Joe Wallin, a Seattle attorney with Carney Badley Spellman, who basically wrote the state legislation that was passed two years ago.

"The ebb and flow of the economy may impact the ability of entrepreneurs to tap traditional sources of capital so at some point, if not right away, the crowdfunding approach may become more popular," he said.

And now comes the likely additional deterrent to intrastate crowdfunding with the warnings about Internet use to advertise the offering, since the advertising may only be to residents of the state in which the offering is made.

Faith Anderson 

According to the SEC's directive, if someone in another state sees the information on the offering, it is no longer intrastate, which would basically nullify the fund-raising effort.

In one of the most thorough examinations of the new role of states in the crowdfunding phenomenon, Faith L. Anderson of the state DFI's Securities Division, describes as "draconian" the fact that rules "do not provide any relief for insignificant deviations" from the advertising limitations.

"A single out-of-state sale will void the exemption (for the entrepreneur raising money via intrastate crowdfunding) and result in an unlawful offer or sale of securities in the absence of another available exemption," she wrote.

Anderson's comments are part of a report she produced for securities departments of all 50 states as chair of the Small Business/Limited Offerings Project Group of the National Securities Administrators Association.

Anderson's document to her peers is designed to explain the strengths and weaknesses of both federal and intrastate crowdfunding options. But her focus on the challenges the SEC rules pose to intrastate offerings includes the comment that the combined effect of federal rules "is to severely restrict an issuer's ability to take advantage of state crowdfunding provisions that are premised on these federal provisions."

But the SEC staff has said the agency is considering amendments that could make Internet use possible.

"There is no timeframe by which the SEC may finalize the proposed amendments to Rule 147 (the rule that has raised a number of concerns for intrastate crowdfunding)," Anderson said in an email exchange with me. " In fact, they may never as they do not have a Congressional duty to act in this regard."

And Wallin added: "Unless it makes the changes being suggested for use of the internet in intrastate crowdfunding, the SEC is tamping down a nascent but important opportunity to cultivate local funding and entrepreneurship ecosystems before they even have an opportunity to develop."
 
But Wallin notes he is "optimistic that whatever the SEC finally decides, the state can figure out...maybe through new rules or amendments."
 
And Anderson closes her briefing to peers with: "As we learn what works and what doesn't from the viewpoint of entrepreneurs and small business owners, states and the SEC may make further adjustments to their crowdfunding rules."
 

Thus there seems to be optimism that what Congress launched with the right intent, but watched while the SEC dithered for almost four years, may still produce an opportunity for entrepreneurs to create jobs rather than being jobbed by thoughtless regulations.

Continue reading
  1351 Hits
  0 Comments
1351 Hits
0 Comments

Congestion anger may give boost to Kemper Freeman's long campaign for roads over rail

 Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr.'s years-long campaign for roads over rails as the way to address the region's transportation needs may be getting a boost just as he is releasing and beginning to promote a report called Mobility 21 as an alternative to the existing long-range plans. 
 
Having completed the Mobility 21 document, for which his Kemper Development Co. was key funder, he is now seeking to generate renewed discussion among policymakers and business leaders in Seattle and on the Eastside about the region's transportation future.

An unexpected assist for the highways believers was the announcement this week from Gov. Jay Inslee that he will be proposing additional lanes on I-405 in the hope of alleviating some of the congestion on the Eastside freeway that has grown dramatically worse of late, and ease the anger of Eastside motorist about it.

Freeman hopes the governor's announcement, which he applauded, may be the first indication of a broad-based effort to force a rethinking of already approved regional transportation plans that focus on light- rail as a key component of long-term plans rather than solutions needed now that focus on roads.

The more long-term boost, by which he hopes he can bring a new emphasis to his argument that more of projected funding should go to roadway systems, may well be in focusing on the greater efficiency to be derived from evolving technology for highways and vehicles.

An underpinning of Freeman's hope to create discussion on new transportation thinking is his focus on the importance of Seattle as the "Super Regional Center," and the importance or access to it for the 8- to 10-million people in the region, including the 670,000 for which Bellevue is a sub-regional center.

"What Bellevue and Seattle have in common is we are both driven by populations far bigger than our immediate city limits," he added, noting that a key roles for the Super Regional and Sub Regional cities is ensuring access.

But he makes clear he views the challenges to a successful synergy between Seattle and Bellevue relate to what he has long viewed as misguided transportation planning for the region.

And he cautions that he has a concern that another pitfall might be what he perceives as the inability of the leadership of Seattle, as that Super Regional Center, to understand that the impact of their decisions go far beyond the city's 600,000 population. And that they have some responsibility to consider those broader impacts on the region.

"Seattle scares me because the rest of us in the region need them to be the Super Regional City and I don't get the impression they are trying to do that," Freeman said. "Our premise is that Seattle and Bellevue each has a role to play in the regional picture and Seattle is not playing its role."

And in discussing the study, Freeman, a generally soft-spoken businessman, raises his voice in anger as he suggests Seattle and the Eastside have a common enemy, Sound Transit. It's Sound Transit's focus on rail as a keystone in the region's transportation future that Freeman has fought for years, including his lawsuit to stop construction of a light-rail line to the Eastside across I-90 that was rejected by the State Supreme Court in the fall of 2013.

Freeman is a believer in rapid transit as a part of the solution, but bus rapid transit (generally referred to by planners around the county as BRT), with center lanes of the I-90 freeway dedicated to buses rather than to rail, contending that when buses reach the Eastside, or suburban points north or south, they can carry passengers to more stops with greater flexibility than light-rail.

And he emphasizes, at a time of increasing frustration about the regions gridlock and congestion, that the BRT approach can begin service and help bring traffic relief in several years rather than decades and at dramatic lower costs.

Now comes what he sees as a boost to discussions that he hopes will lead to a revisit not just the I-90 rail plan but a need to rethink exiting plans.

Freeman, owner of Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place and Lincoln Square as well as emerging pieces of what his marketing folks refer to as The Bellevue Collection, a 6-million-square-foot portfolio of "commerce, style and culture," explained to Eastside business leaders recently about the rationale for Mobility 21.

The point of having produced Mobility 21 at this time is based on what the project describes as "Five Critical Realities," the first of which, that congestion is worsening, is an obvious reality that Freeman hopes may create some new converts in business and government to his goal of greater spending on the "roadway system."

But the more long-term boost, he hopes, he can bring a new emphasis to his argument that more of projected funding should go to those roadway systems by focusing on the greater efficiency to be derived from evolving technology for highways and vehicles.

Specifically, Mobility 21 suggests that automated driver assistance systems and collision-preventing features like adaptive cruise control, automated lane keeping on freeways, radar breaking and blind-spot monitoring will lead to 50 percent more capacity per freeway lane.

In fact, as an observer rather than an advocate for either position, I'm struck by the fact a massive worldwide effort is underway to radically change the shape of personal mobility with smaller, lighter, cleaner, collision-proof vehicles running on existing roadways.

There's an inescapable sense that those advancements will require transportation planners to weigh anew whether the transportation-expenditure priorities should remain the same or be re-evaluated.

And any decision on re-evaluating and possibly revising transportation plans to reflect emerging personal mobility technologies needs to be done with only transportation benefits as the goal, with no consideration for the politics of what kind of transportation some community or business groups might wish to emphasize.
Continue reading
  1289 Hits
  0 Comments
1289 Hits
0 Comments

Panel with two prominent local TV execs about challenges keys discussion of media accuracy

No time could be more logical for a conversation about accuracy in media than political season and presidential debates.

So this column is by way of sharing such a conversation between a couple of old-media "believers" about increasingly common challenges to old convictions, like how important is media accuracy? What does "accuracy" mean? Accurate to whom? Is it losing its importance? And what is media anyway?

Except the conversation in question was generated not by the political season, but by a panel discussion earlier that day in which I got to question two of Seattle's most respected television executives at the Columbia Tower Club's "Q and A with a CEO" series about the state of television now and challenges to come.

Pam Pearson, vice president and general manager of Tribune-Broadcasting owned KCPQ13, and Rob Dunlop, president and CEO of KCTS9, the local public-television station, both expressed conviction about the importance of local news and information to their stations.

Pearson, who was an executive at Tribune stations in Los Angeles and Chicago before arriving in Seattle in 1999, and Dunlop, who brought 20 years as a top executive with Seattle's Fisher Broadcasting when he arrived in fall of 2013 to guide Seattle's public-television station, have led with their actions rather than their words on this issue.

Pearson, who got her start in news as a reporter for Ted Turner's CNN in Atlanta, has added 10 hours a Day of local news programming to her station's offerings while Dunlop has acquired the on-line news journal Crosscut.com and emerging local website What's Good 206, which presents a millennial perspective on local issues.

Both Pearson and Dunlop have set a premium on quality journalism for their stations, even though news and information are only a portion of their offerings.

The discussion with Pearson and Dunlop ranged well beyond their news commitment since both are leaders in a medium that is challenged as never before by audience segments that can now find their content anywhere, and in fact create content themselves.

And Dunlop shared that his Channel 9 audience that includes about a quarter who are in the 4-to-11 age range. And even that audience is already straying to get their entertainment from devices other than the television screen.

What they are both aware of as they consider what the future holds is that commitment and quality don't carry any guarantee of success in a world where virtually anyone can be a content provider in the internet era, and that as it relates to news, the quest for accuracy is not necessarily pervasive.

As Pearson noted, "There are so few actual barriers to entry into the digital world by content providers...and it is very difficult to know what's credible."

And that question of credibility in news keyed the later conversation with a friend of mine, Pat Scanlon, who is responsible for the existence of this weekly email column because he pressed me six years ago, after my retirement from Puget Sound Business Journal, with "you should have a blog and I'll show you how."

Scanlon has since become what could be described as "the guru of all things digital on behalf of old-line media companies" and is thus versed in emergence of an array of digital content, having built a digital network of perhaps 200 small daily newspapers for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and later USA Today's national high school content.

The conventional media issue of "fact check" in debates or political discussion is a noble effort but one that makes few friends since there is a sense that "most people don't want to read the truth or the unbiased facts, they want to read things that support or reinforce their conclusion,"as one media observer put it.

"When all is said and done, only the local TV station or newspaper, of whatever size, has the tools that make them the perfect brands to hold authority accountable - journalistic standards combined with brand equity in their communities," Scanlon said. "But their window of opportunity to capitalize on this positioning is closing, and slowly some online-only outlets are making ground on the credibility required to perform this function and take this position."

I shared with him that I am less concerned about new-media content-creators and bloggers for whom credibility based on accuracy is the goal but rather on bloggers and other content providers who seek to acquire credibility without being forced to be accurate.

An example that constantly comes to mind for me is bloggers who provide paid content, meaning they are paid by the subjects of their blogs, without readers being made aware of that key fact.

Since I think that is a broader problem then people may realize, I once suggested to a newspaper publisher that he could cement a relationship with the social-media audience by regularly running a well-researched page about what blogs readers can trust and those that are questionable. That type of editorial service would obviously incense those new-media types who demand "who are you to decide what's accurate?"

The rise of Fox News has created its own divisive role as it relates to what politically disagreeing individuals view as "facts."

Thus the emergence of conversations that refer to what "your news media" says vs. what "my media" says in terms of delivering all the facts or in how the facts are portrayed.

In summing up the point about accuracy, Scanlon said: "altruistically, the truth is the truth. But realistically, accuracy means verification from multiple sources."

"And as to media accuracy, I feel it is more important than ever, but harder to attain," Scanlon said. "Currently, there seems to be a sense that whatever 'my' truth is makes it 'accurate.'"
Continue reading
  1227 Hits
  0 Comments
1227 Hits
0 Comments

Deanna Oppenheimer, Bruce Kennedy and Ivar Haglund Hall of Fame laureates for 2016

The Seattle banker who became one of the world's most influential women in banking, the man who set Alaska Airlines on the road to national leadership in its industry and Seattle's clown king of fish and chips have been selected as 2016 laureates of the Puget Sound Business Hall of Fame.

Deanna Oppenheimer, who built her reputation at Washington Mutual then became a key executive at Barclay's Bank, guiding its U.K. operations, is still active as founder of CameoWorks and a member of several international boards. Both Bruce Kennedy, who turned Alaska Airlines from a struggling small carrier to a national leader in its industry, and Ivar Haglund, who founded and guided the growth of Ivar's seafood restaurants, are both deceased.
 
All three will be honored April 21 at the annual Hall of Fame induction banquet at the Waterfront Marriott as the three will join 115 other icons of regional business as laureates selected since the Business Hall of Fame was created in 1987 by Junior Achievement and the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Oppenheimer joined Washington Mutual's marketing department in 1985 five years after her graduation from University of Puget Sound and, from the time Kerry Killinger became CEO in 1990 and over the next 15 years, she was a key executive helping guide major acquisition decisions and the dramatic expansion of WAMU.

But she was watching from afar as she saw the Seattle bank that she helped grow during her two decades there disappear in the 2008 financial meltdown while she was steering Barclay's, the respected old British bank, successfully through the global crisis.

She returned home to Seattle in 2011 after five years at Barclay's transforming the global retail and business-banking divisions of the staid 350-year-old institution and founded Cameoworks LLC, a global retail and financial-services advisory firm.

In October 2010 was voted American Banker magazine's Second Most Powerful Woman in Banking.
Bruce Kennedy, who served as Alaska's chairman and CEO between 1979 and 1991, a period of dramatic growth in revenue and route expansion that set the airline on the road to being the dominant force in the airline industry that it has become today.

Kennedy was an Anchorage businessman whose real estate firm bought an Alaska airlines that was near bankruptcy in 1972 and the firm steadied the carrier financially, setting the stage for Kennedy to assume the top post.

Over Kennedy's 12 years at the helm, Alaska's revenue grew more than six-fold to $1.1 billion by the time he retired to focus his attention on humanitarian work, traveling to China to teach English, sheltering refugees in his home and serving as chairman of Quest Aircraft, which made aircraft for dangerous and remote locations.

It was under his leadership that Alaska developed routes to Southern California, Russia and launched the Mexico connection that has become a vital segment of Alaska's business today and that Alaska acquired Horizon Air, a Northwest regional carrier that has grown to be the nation's eighth largest regional airline.

Kennedy died in 2007 when his small plane crashed on Wenatchee as he was en route to visit his grandchildren. He was 68.

Ivar Haglund was a Seattle folk singer and restaurateur who came to be referred to as "King," of Seattle's waterfront And the "flounder" of Ivar's. In 1938 he established Seattle's first aquarium on Pier 54 along with the fish and chips stand as he presided over a growing restaurant chain guiding a belief that quirky fun is important. That conviction included erecting underwater billboards, seeking a permit for a facility to grow marijuana for his special chowder.

In 1965 he launched the annual fireworks display over Elliott Ba every "Fourth of Jul-Ivar." By then he had become a legend as rdstaurateur, radio personalityhe began lofting fireworks over Elliott Bay every "Fourth of Jul-Ivar," he was a legend. He became a radio personality and  Puget Sound's principal champion of regional folk music.

Bob Donegan, whose 15 years at the helm of Ivar's have brought a doubling of revenue as Ivar's clebrated its 75th aniverary last August.

Donegan notes that Ivar set up one of the first pension and healthcare programs and that "Ivar hired people, kept them for decades and treated them well, setting the stage for the company's philosophy that employees come first."

This is the 29th anniversary of the launch of the Puget Sound Business Hall of Fame, although the local event was superseded in 1993 when the JA's National Business Hall of Fame was held in Seattle and Steve Jobs was among the newly inducted laureates on hand to accept his award.

David Moore, JA president for Washington, announced that Seattle Mariner President Kevin Mather would be the chair of the 2016 event.
Continue reading
  1327 Hits
  0 Comments
1327 Hits
0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"The entire conversation and perception needs to move about rural America, what is going on here and its role in making our economy and our country work better," she said, expressing the principle that has guided her commitment to Montana entrepreneurs.
Continue reading
  1538 Hits
  0 Comments
1538 Hits
0 Comments

Life Science Discovery Fund prepares for what could be its most important grant

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other applicants are Accelerator Corp., which is seeking money for a commercialization funding program; the Washington Biotech and Biomedical Association, and what's called the Southsound Research Coalition, which also involves UW along with Madigan Army Medical Center and Multicare Healthcare Systems.
Continue reading
  1300 Hits
  0 Comments
1300 Hits
0 Comments

National attention in '22 bowl game fed thirst for grid glory at Gonzaga before basketball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The outbreak of war in 1941 ended Gonzaga's pursuit of football fame, a quest that was doomed to die at some point, having cost the school the then-dramatic amount of $60,000 in its worst year and providing less than a dime of profit in the best.
Continue reading
  1658 Hits
  0 Comments
1658 Hits
0 Comments

Gil Folleher, who built strong business-leader support for JA, remembered for his legacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now those who were close to Folleher will gather again, despite his insisting there be no service or memorial, for a toast and sharing of memories January 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the Waterfront Marriott.
 
In what amounted to an appropriate summing up, Moore noted: "I have always said we are warming by a fire we did not build since what JA is today is a legacy for Folleher's passion and leadership."'
Continue reading
  1312 Hits
  0 Comments
1312 Hits
0 Comments

Holiday teletype art: greetings from communications era past

Dear Friends: 

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

    

Happy Holidays!
 


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


 

 

  

         $f  dF   ,
                 .,,,...                            $L ;$  ,dP
             ,!!!!!!!',cd$$$$$e,                 q  4$f,$$,z$"
           ,!!!!!!!',c$$$$$$$$$$$$c              `$o`$$kuC3$$ .zf
         ,!!!!!!!',c$$$$$$P**""**?$c              R$beeF?$$$$$"
        ;!!!!!!! c$$$$$$",eed$$F"?t"               "$$$$bd$$$"
       ;!!!!!!!.d$$$$$F j"j$3$bf""?b?e,             '$$$$$$P"
      !!!!!!  $$$$$$P J,f ,d$$b?$bde`$c          .$k<?????>'$b
      !!!!!!!$$$$F".$$".u$$??P}"""^ ?$$c.       d$$$$$dd$$$$$>
       `!!!!!  ?L e$$ $$$$$P'zee^"$$$$boc"$$,     R$$$$$$$$$$$$
        '!!!   z$$$$$c,"$P'd$$F'zdbeereee$$$$$eu    "??$$$$PF"
Mn      !!   d$$$$$$$$ee z$P",d$$$$$$c?$$$$$$$$C  '!!!!!!>
MMM   ,cec, '^$$$$$$$$$c,",e$$C?$$$$$$bc?$$$$$$$k !!!!!!!!!!!!
MMM'.$$$$$$$, ?$$$$$$$$P$$$$$$$bc?T$$$$$$d$$$$$$$ . -.`!!!!!!!
nMM d$$$$$$$F  $$P???",e4$$$$$$$$bcc?$$$$$$$$$$$$ /~.!!!!!!!!!
n.  "$$$$$$$'   ,"??e,.-.?$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$F.C"m.`!!!!!!!'
M"!`"""""   !!!!!!i."?o. "? ?$$$??$$$"$$F"$P<$$$b/4.`4!!!
  4!!!!h     <!!!!!!!!!!  .CL.F'.zeElu.  ?eb o$$$$$$o(#c'`
   '`~!!~.ud !!````'!''``zd$$$$$`d$$$CuuJ" ! 4$$$$$$$$$$c"$c
." !~`z$$$"!!!~`..i! d$$$$$$$`$$$$FCCJ" !!! ?$$$$$$$$$b $L
$$"z$$$$$"!!! !!!!!'4$$$$$$$$`$$$$$" "" !!!!!`$$$$$$$$$$ "
?o$$$$$$F !!!!!!!!!!! 4$$$$$$$$;?$P" JL \.~!!!!i $$$$P?"l.u-
$$$$$$$$F!!!!!!!!!!!!'R$$$$$$$E.! $.$$c3$%`!!! .l==7Cuec^ <
$$$$$$$$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!i ?$$$$P"<!!! ?$`$$$$N.     Rk`$$$$$$r\
$$$$$$$$L`!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! .!!!''`   $$$$$$      $c"??"7u+? !
$$$$$$$$$ !!!!!!!!!!!'` !!''`         '""        .'?b"l.4d$ !!!
$$$$$$$$$b `!!!'''`.. '''`               ...!!!!!! $$$.?$b'!!!>
[email protected]$$$$$$$$        ..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3$$b ?$c`!!!
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$f .!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! d$$$$`$$b !!!
$$$$$$$$$$$"3$$$$$$$$$"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! $$$$$,$$$k !!!
$$$$$$$$$P,d$$$$$$$$F !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3$$$$$ $$$i`!!! 3>
$$$$$$F$Fz$$$$$$$$$$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! d$$$$$h`$$$,!!! $&
$$$$$FJFx$$$$$$$$$$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'4$$$$$$$ 9$$$.'.$$$L
$$$$$ F.$$$$$$$$F.r !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! $$$$$$$F  ?$$$e$$$$F
$$$$F .$$$$$$$$"d$$bu,,.```''!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'''''`,d$$$$$$$F.! ?$$$$$$F
$$$$F d$$$$$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$bc,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,ccd$$$$$$$$$$$$ !!f ?$$$$"
  "$$$e$$$$$$$$&'$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ !! $P"
    `"?$$$$$$$$$e`?$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ !!'
       `?$$$$$$$$$$e `""**???$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$P***""..!!'
          "?$$$$$$$$k`!!!!!!;;;;;;,,,...... ,,,,,;;!!!!!!!!!!
              ""???"" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                       !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'   !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                        !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.   `!!!!!!!!!'''!!!!'
                      i !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   .``''`.,uu,,.```.
                      !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!~`    d$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$>
                     c.`~~~~~!!!!!..        $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
                     $$$$$eeeeeeeuuuee$      $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$"
                     $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$       """"...........
                     ?$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$P"       '!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                       .."""""""""".          !!!!!!!!!!!!!
                      !!!!!!!!!!!!!!          `!!!!!!!!!!!'
                     i!!!!!!!!!!!!!'          !!!!!!!!!!!'
                      !!!!!!!!!!!!!           !!!!!!!!!!!!.
                      !!!!!!!!!!'!!!           . `!!!!!!!!!!!!`...
                      `!!!!!!!! -'``           !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                       !!!!!!!!!i!!!           `~~~~~```~~~~~~~~~~~~`
                       !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.
                         ```'!!!!!!!'``..
                               `!!!!!!!!!!!'
                                  `````


                                                  zr 
                                               Yt$$$. 
                                            .,e$$$$$F' 
                          4e r               $$$$$$$. 
                          d$$br            _z$$$$$$$F` 
                           ?$$b._          ^?$$$$$$$ 
                            4$$$"     -eec.  ""JP" ..eee$%.. 
                            -**N #c   -^***.eE  ^z$P$$$$$$$$$r- 
                   .ze$$$$$eu?$eu '$$$$b $=^*$$ .$$$$$$$$$$" 
                --."?$$$$$$$$$c"$$c .""" e$K  =""*?$$$P"""" 
    ueee. ``  $E !!h ?$$$$$$$$b R$N'~!! *$$F J"""C.  ` 
   J  `"$$eu`!h !!!`4!!<?$$$$$$$P ?".eee-z.ee" ~$$e.br 
   'j$$Ne`?$$c`4!~`-e-!`$$$$$$$ $$**"z $^R$P  3 "$$$bJ 
    4$$$F".`?$$c`!! \).!!!`?$$$$F.$$$# $u$% ee*"^ 4`"$"?$q 
     ""`,!!!`$$N.4!!~~.~~4 ?$$F'[email protected]* [email protected]$$$$ec.      " 
     "Rr`!!!!h ?$$c`h `# !! $F,r4$L***  e$$$$$$$$$$$$hc 
       #e'4!!!!L`$$b'!.!h`~~ .$F'"    d$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$h, 
        ^$.`!!!!h $$b`!. -    $P /'   .$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$c 
          "$c`!!!h`$$.4~      $$$r'   <$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$P""" 
            ^te.`~ $$b        `Fue-   `$$$$$$$$$$$$$$P".  !! "< 
               ^"=4$P"     .,,,. -^.   ?$$$$$$$$$$"?. !! !!~ ,,ec.. 
                     ..z$$$$$$$$$h,    `$$$$$$P"..`!f !f ~)Lze$$$P""""?i 
                   ud$$$$$$$$$$$$$$h    `?$$F <!!'<!>~)ue$$P*"..!!!!! J 
                 .K$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$,     P.>e'!f !~ ed$$P".!!!!!!!!`.d" 
                z$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$      4!!~\e$$$P`!!!!!!!!!!'.eP' 
               -*". . "??$$$$$$$$$$$$       ~ `z$$$F".`!!!!!!!!!!',dP" 
             ." )!!h i`!- ("?$$$$$$f        ,$$P"! ). `'!!!!`,d$F' 
        .ueeeu.J`-^.!h <-  ~`.. ??$$'       ,$$ !!`e$$$$e `,e$F' 
     e$$$$$$$$$$$$$eeiC ")?-<%'^?        ?$f !!! ?$$$$",F" 
    P"....```""?$$$$$$$$$euL^.!..` .         "Tu._.,``"" 
    $ !!!!!!!!!!.""??$$$$$$eJ~^=.            ```` 
    ?$.`!!!!!!!!!!!!!!."??$$$$$c'. 
     "?b.`!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!>."?$$$$c 
       ^?$c`'!!!!!!!!!!!',eeb, "$$$k 
          "?$e.`'!!!!!!! $$$$$ ;.?$$ 
             "?$ee,``''!."?$P`i!! 3P 
                 ""??$bec,,.,ceeeP" 
                        `""""""

  

 

  

            *             ,
                        _/^^\_
                       <     >
      *                 /.-.\         *
               *        `/&\`                   *
                       ,@.*;@,
                      /_o.I %_\    *
         *           (`'--o([email protected];
                    /`;--.,__ `')             *
                   ;@`o % O,*`'`&\
             *    (`'--)[email protected] ;o %'()\      *
                  /`;--._`''--._O'@;
                 /&*,()~o`;-.,_ `""`)
      *          /`,@ ;+& () o*`;-';\
                (`""--.,_0 +% @' &()\
                /-.,_    ``''--....-'`)  *
           *    /@%;o`;'--,.__   __.'\
         ;*,&(); @ % &^^;~`"`o;@();         *
           /(); o^^~; & ()[email protected]*&`;&%O\
       jgs   `"="==""==,,,.,="=="==="`
          __.----.(\-''#####---...___...-----._
                  '`         \)_`"""""`
                            .--' ')
                         o(  )_-\
 
 

  

  

 

Continue reading
  1558 Hits
  0 Comments
1558 Hits
0 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he wondered aloud in one of our interviews a couple of years ago "how many jurisdictions should there be that taxpayers are helping support? Could some services be merged into regional units? Can some be privatized?"
It's out of the echo of such discussion Hara started that new ways of doing things at the local-government level may emerge as lawmakers and policymakers cope with new funding realities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hara is taking a few days vacation with his wife, Liz, and told me in an email that while he has not made any future commitments, he has "too much energy to simply retire," adding "life is good and there is life after politics."
Continue reading
  2083 Hits
  0 Comments
2083 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