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updated 10:27 PM CDT, Sep 8, 2016

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Final fundraising underway for long-sought arts center in Bellevue

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The final push is underway to bring the 25-year quest of Eastside community leaders for their own performing arts center to groundbreaking, likely in October, representing the symbolic final pre-construction step for the $195 million Tateuchi Center in downtown Bellevue.

The Tateuchi board is expected to set the groundbreaking date at its June meeting, but there is a $52 million hill to climb to get to groundbreaking, a hill that Cathi Hatch, who has chaired the fundraising campaign and is vice chair of the board, plans to overcome with a "Topping off Major Gifts campaign."

With $127 million raised to date, achieving that pre-groundbreaking total will leave $15.8 million, which Hatch says: "We will raise that during our Community and Small Business Campaign, which begins at Groundbreaking."

Alex Smith, CEO of Kaye Smith Enterprises and Tateuchi Board chair, admits "there is a great deal of work ahead of us, but we have the tools in place and the fortitude to get it done."

Indeed the idea of the center has guided supporters to overcome a number of challenges as the plans for the facility have gathered momentum, challenges that included the economic downturn in 2008 that caused some to begin doubting that the center had a future.

Kemper Freeman, who has been a forefront and forceful supporter of the concept from the outset, noted that "We lost a lot of time to a difficult economy." That was when the Great Recession dropped its curtain on the economy and made some doubt that the vision of an Eastside performing arts facility would survive.


"In economic down times a focus on the arts is always the first thing to cool off," said Freeman. "But in good times, people want to give to the arts so it's a perfect season to finish this campaign on a high note." A major boost to re-energizing the campaign was a $20 million pledge by the Bellevue City Council in 2015.

But part of the community support for the center has come from the changing demographics and growth pressures throughout the region that have turned the Tateuchi from a competitor of Seattle arts, as once would have been the case, to a regional arts asset.

Hatch made note of that when she remarked in an email to me that successful completion of fundraising and opening of the facility in2021 "will enable Tateuchi Center to operate successfully as a first-class performing art center and arts education resource for our entire region."

"It was needed a quarter-century ago and all the growth and change not just on the Eastside but throughout the region since then have made this project even more necessary," said Peter Horvitz, immediate past chair of the Tateuchi board.

While the facility will be the venue for many Eastside performing arts groups, the collection of Seattle arts leadership on the Tateuchi advisory board is evidence that the Center is coming to be viewed by Seattle arts organizations as an asset rather than a threat.
Thus it is viewed as complementing Seattle arts venues like McCaw Hall, Benaroya Hall, the 5th Avenue and Paramount theaters while filling a regional need by providing a more convenient venue for Eastside residents while offering an Eastside platform for Seattle arts groups.

Horvitz, a longtime owner of what was the Eastside's daily newspaper who remains a key Eastside business leader and philanthropist, noted the impact traffic has had on a Seattle-centered arts community.

The changing attitude of Seattle performing arts leaders toward a Bellevue concert center is in response to an increasing reluctance of Eastsiders, who account for more than 50 percent of Seattle arts subscribers and Seattle ticketholders, to face the twin traffic challenges of Lake Washington bridges to Seattle and traffic tie-ups in downtown Seattle.

The strategy of Seattle arts organizations is to use the 2,000-seat center for the double benefit of attracting new audiences while helping retain existing ticketholders and supporters.

"It is increasingly difficult for Eastsiders to drive to Seattle for performances," Horvitz said. "As a result, Seattle-based performing arts organizations will have the opportunity to reach new audiences and retain current patrons by performing at Tateuchi Center. The addition of Sound Transit's light rail will add to the convenience of attending performances at Tateuchi."

When first envisioned, the facility that now carries the Tateuchi Family name as a result of a $20 million naming right pledge got its initial boost forward when the Kemper Freeman family committed the land on which the Center will be built. That was 15 years and keyed a $6 million gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to pay for design and engineering.

Then came when what was viewed as a "tipping point" matching pledge of $20 million, half from the Arakawa Foundation, announced in the fall of 2016 at a festive gathering of supporters at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, next to the Tateuchi site.
The $10 million pledged by Yoko and Minoru Arakawa, to name the 2,000-seat centerpiece of the center the Arakawa Concert Hall, put the facility $122 million in cash and pledges on the way to the groundbreaking.

There's little doubt that Freeman and his wife, Betty, have been a key driving force in the growth of the central vision toward reality, although, without those who caught the vision, it would not likely have overcome the obstacles to reach the fundraising and groundbreaking stage it has.

Freeman, who with his wife will have provided more than 10 percent of the nearly $200m total when the campaign ends, likes to point out that "this project has raised more money than either of the other key performing arts centers in the region," referring to 2,900 seat McCaw Hall and the 2,500-seat Benaroya Hall.

The fact that Tateuchi represents a new performing-arts paradigm for this region is pointed up by Freeman's explaining in an interview the Center "will have more days of the year that it will be used, meaning it will be less dependent on annual fundraising to keep it open.

He also notes the acoustical versatility the center will enjoy. "We will be able to electronically tune the acoustics to fit the sound capability needed for the performing activity, whether a symphony or Broadway show."
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Spellman was a governor willing to deny even the president for the sake of integrity

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The death of former Gov. John Spellman from pneumonia early Tuesday at the age of 91while hospitalized for a broken hip stirs recollections for many of an elected official applauded for his integrity and courage. Spellman's passing reminded me of a column I did to mark the 30thanniversary of his 1981 swearing-in as what would be the state's last Republican governor, an anniversary I thought noteworthy enough to call him for an interview and do the following Flynn's Harp on him in January of 2011.
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I once asked John Spellman what kind of governor he had been and with a twinkle in his Irish eyes, he replied: "I was a darn good governor." And beyond the tumult of his times, including what he'd suggest may have been the worst economic period the state has experienced, there's much to suggest that may be an accurate assessment.

But it would have been difficult for many who were there at the time to accept that assessment, since during his 1980-84 single term as governor, Washington's last Republican governor, he managed to make decisions that irritated almost every segment on the political spectrum. But Spellman understood more than most elected officials that being good was different than being popular.

spel001Spellman, John D. (1926-2018)One such decision came about because of his strong commitment to environmental protection. Thus, despite enormous pressure from business groups, many legislators and, most notably, his own Republican president, he used his authority to prevent permitting for what he felt was an environmentally-risky development project in a sensitive shoreline area of Whatcom County.

Another was that "we passed more taxes in my four years than they have before or since" Spellman recalled in a telephone interview this week. "One of the challenges in seeking to get re-elected was that I said I would raise taxes only as a last resort and some people took that to mean I wouldn't raise taxes.

"We had a crisis, as evidenced by the fact we had a 13.6 percent unemployment rate at one point, and in crises, you have to act," he added. "People didn't elect me to do nothing."

He spent two years fighting with a Democrat-controlled legislature and two with one controlled by Republicans.

The recession that began in 1981 "was much worse than anyone thought it would be and we had to do some things to get the economy moving and some money coming in," Spellman recalled. "So I announced an economic revitalization plan that included, among other things, an industrial development bonds program that had long been a tool of other states, but hadn't been available here."

Spellman was an early believer in the importance of establishing relations with foreign nations and is proud of initiating relationships with Schewan Province in China and furthering relations with Japan during his term.

"Both world trade and world peace were in play then, as now, and relationships are very important in international affairs," said Spellman. "The relationships we have are extremely important to the world in terms of peace and tranquility and trade, but trade is third among those in importance."

Spellman, who at 84 still puts in four days a week at Seattle law firm Carney Badley Spellman, practiced politics in a long-gone era when Republican elected officials could be moderate enough to sometimes find Democrats to the right of them.

So it was when Spellman ran for Seattle mayor in the mid-60s in his first attempt at elective office, an unsuccessful race in which he favored open-housing legislation and opposed the county's gambling tolerance policy. Both were positions with which a majority of voters in then-conservative Seattle and King County disagreed.

Spellman, handsome and personable with a winning smile, was an attorney, graduate of Seattle University then Georgetown Law School, whose ever-present pipe would be lit and relit during lengthy discussion sessions.

Because one of his legal clients was the United Steelworkers Union local, he had support from a lot of labor-union members. In fact, my first meeting with Spellman in 1967 was when my steelworker uncle introduced me to him at a cocktail party in downtown Seattle after explaining to me what a fair and fine man this was whom I was about to meet.

Spellman remembers of the mayoral race, a quest for a non-partisan office, that he was "very young and I didn't have much of a campaign. But I enjoyed the process and people noticed me because my views were the correct ones."

But he put on the Republican label when he ran for and won a seat on the King County Board of Commissioners and, after the county changed its charter to provide for a county executive, Spellman ran for and won that office.

Since Washington State now has the longest period of any state since having a GOP chief executive, I asked Spellman why he thought it was that the four governors who followed him, including Booth Gardner who unseated him, were all Democrats. His response was typically candid: "The Republicans' problem was the quality of the candidates," Spellman said. "They were all good people but unelectable."

I asked Spellman during our telephone interview how it felt to lose his re-election bid. "It wasn't devastating. Maybe to some of my kids it was, but not to me," Spellman replied. "I knew I had done a lot of things that weren't calculated to make getting re-elected easy."

Would that the integrity connoted by that comment were a legacy imparted to current elected officials.

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Community fills St. James Cathedral for Wayne Melonson goodbye

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It takes the funeral of a prominent community figure to attract the number of friends and mourners necessary to fill the four arms of the cross-shaped St. James Cathedral in Seattle, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Western Washington.

That was the case three-plus years ago when a packed cathedral said goodbye to Robert Craves, an original Costco executive and Founder of the College Success Foundation. And it was true 20 years ago at the last farewell to PEMCO CEO Stanley O. McNaughton. Those are the two I'm aware of. 

But it was the leader of a different sort whose funeral filled the cathedral to capacity last weekend. The prominent of Seattle's minority community and the families of kids who were guided and counseled by Wayne James Melonson during his 40 years as a teacher and administrator then principal of St. Therese School in Seattle's Central Area were on hand to say goodbye to him. Melonson Was 67.

Seattle's black community, with a sprinkling of white faces like those of my son, Michael, and mine, filled the church to capacity, proving that prominence and influence are not necessarily the same but can be of equal importance in the creation of community. Wayne had influence in a way that defined the word.

As an African-American who grew up and spent his student and professional life in Seattle's then mostly minority Central Area, Melonson was particularly sensitive to the needs of the minority kids, which prompted growing numbers of their parents to seek out St. Therese as the place they wanted their children to be educated.

But on occasion, when he caught a couple of kids engaging in a fist-fight, it was not unusual to see him come quickly to wrap his arms around the necks of both boys and squeeze as the two heads stuck out of his cupped arms. The kind of discipline not available to teachers in public schools seemed to serve the growth and maturing of the St. Therese students pretty well.

Wayne and his seven siblings grew up two blocks from St. Therese School, where his grade school education there was followed by high school at O'Dea and then Seattle University. It was there, while still a college student, that he became a part-time physical education instructor at St. Therese.

After graduating from SU, he joined the St. Therese faculty. Before long he was an administrator and soon principle, the role in which our family first encountered him when we returned to Seattle from California.

Wayne believed that in addition to academic focus, athletic competition was a way for kids to learn success and it was in that capacity, as he coached the St. Therese All-Stars, that part of his impact came to be felt. He believed athletics gave kids the opportunity to reach beyond their confidence.

So as Michael and I sat listening to the memories of his contributions being shared, I was reminded of the time that Michael and three of his young black friends learned a lesson about reaching beyond their confidence level. They were seventh graders and Wayne decided their 4-by-100 meter relay team would compete against the eighth graders in the all-city meet.

Michael ran third and by the time he got the baton, St. Therese was about 80 meters ahead. Michael added about 30 meters to that lead, then he passed the baton to cleanup runner Pellar Phillips, but he stepped on Pellar's shoe as he handed off the baton.  

As Pellar started to head toward the finish, he suddenly realized he only had one shoe so ran back and knelt down to put it on, giving time for the trailing teams to get within about 50 meters. But with his shoe back on, Pellar took off and won by about 80 meters. All four kids eventually competed in track and field at the college level, largely because of Melanson's training.

His impact reached beyond St. Therese since he was on the boards of O'Dea High School, Seattle Preparatory School and Forest Ridge School.

Gary Melonson, a broker at Oppenheimer & Co. in Seattle and one of Wayne's seven siblings, recalled how Wayne and Regina Hickman, who would be his wife of 35 years, first met. If there's a marriage made it heaven, it may be one where a priest is present for the introduction.

In this case, in 1977, Wayne was the priest. Actually a Halloween costume. As Gary this week recalled the story, which Regina confirmed, she was a student at the University of Washington who had a part-time job at the Urban League of Seattle, which decided to have its Halloween Party at the St. Therese Hall.

She remembers that the League had to get permission from Wayne to rent the hall and he decided to attend the event and his Halloween garb was the outfit of a priest while Regina wore her Garfield High School cheerleader outfit. He asked her to dance and when the event was ending, he approached her and asked if he could have permission to ask her out.

She said yes and they were married five years later and they had three sons.

Wayne's Catholic faith was an essential part of who he was and he instilled the importance of faith in his students.

As one of his students said of him, "he loved each of us fiercely. And he made us love one another even when we didn't want to."

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The Harp Turns 10! Reflections on a decade of notes on people, politics, and life

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A decade of harping, actually producing a weekly email column under the title "Flynn's Harp" most every week for the past 10 years, is cause for pause and reflection.

For nearly a quarter-century guiding the fortunes of Puget Sound Business Journal, my creative outlet from the business challenges was the weekly column that permitted me to share thoughts on people and issues with PSBJ's readers.

It was the spring of 2008, two years after my retirement from PSBJ, that my friend Pat Scanlon, whom I now refer to as my digital guru because of his background in digital media with national media companies, said to me: "You should have an online column." To that, I replied: "Why?" So he said: "Let me show you what I've put together" and lo, the layout, and format of both email and web versions, missing only a column title, was there on my computer, causing me to muse: "So what would I write about?"

Because it was a general-election year, I had already written a piece reflecting on the 1968 presidential campaign in which I had been fortunate enough, as a young political writer for UPI, to be immersed. The 1968 campaign was one that had high-visibility roles for four people from Washington State and I had put all of that into a piece without knowing where I would try to place the article.

When I began thinking of the "what would I write?" I realized that I could divide that 1968-campaign article into four parts, one for each of the four people I had included as key players in that long-ago campaign. Then, presto, I'd have a month's worth of columns! Then I'd be four weeks on the way to have time to think of a fifth and a sixth column, etc.

Thus then-Gov. Dan Evans, who was 1968 GOP convention keynoter, mountaineer Jim Whittaker, who became like a brother to Sen. Robert Kennedy, Egil (Bud) Krogh, a young Seattle attorney who became a Watergate figure, and author Kitty Kelly, a high school friend, became the first four profiles of the
Harp.

Since we are coming up on what, now that 2018 has dawned, the 50th anniversary of that campaign, detailed 40 years on in a reflective piece in a national magazine in 2008 on Robert Kennedy's quest for the presidency as "the last good campaign," I decided to revisit those four columns in this 10th year of The Harp.

So over the coming weeks, I will be inserting those columns into the flow of
Harps, repeating the recollections from a presidential campaign now half a century removed but one in which all four of those personalities I wrote about remain active today. But I will also during the coming months be reprising other columns that had particular and special meaning to me.

I figured the best way to get the column going as an e-mail offering back in 2008 was to send the first one to about 600 of my closest friends and contacts (some I hadn't touched base with for several years), hoping they would either read it or ignore it but not tag me as SPAM.

Over time, as I've met new people in my "retirement" activities and consulting, I've added another 1,000 names.

So it now goes weekly to about 1,600 recipients whom I describe as business leaders, mostly Washington State but 100 or so in California, Hawaii and a few other states, as well as current and former state and local elected officials, and four college presidents.

Doing the column regularly, with the personal requirement that it be original material, in other words, facts and information not yet brought to the public's awareness has provided a satisfaction.

But even more so have been the responses from many to the emails, some moving, some laudatory, some critical. I have specifically always acknowledged the latter.

I like to tell people the column has resulted in more friendships than I had as PSBJ publisher because then, business people who read my columns and editorials were merely part of a mostly faceless audience of readers. Now the "readers" are those who are kind enough to let me into their email box weekly and most proceed to open long enough to see if that particular one is interesting.

So over the course of 500 columns, I have come to know people and their successes and challenges, and issues that impact them, in ways that would never have been the case except for the column.

I have now become an evangelist for doing email columns, urging my friends and business associates to create columns, advising "not weekly!" and admonishing "if you do it, it needs to be not about yourself or your business but about the knowledge you can impart from your experience."

A couple of friends have taken me up on it, the first being Don Brunell, retired president of the Association of Washington Business, who recalled in an email to me this week the occasion for the launch of his column that now appears in a number of weekly newspapers.

"We were at the Coeur d' Alene Hotel for AWB's Executive Committee retreat and we were having a beer in the lobby bar in 1995, bemoaning how we got our butts kicked by Mike Lowry in 1993. The D's controlled Olympia and Lowry would chastise business:  'you mean to tell me you guys can't afford a latte a day to pay for health care for your workers.'"  

 "We were talking about getting our message out and you said:  'why don't you write a weekly column?'  So I gave it a try. That's now almost 23 years ago."

The other is Al Davis, a friend and former longtime client, who is a founder of Revitalization Partners, a noted Seattle-based business management and advisory firm. Early last year he packaged the columns he and business partner Bill Lawrence have written bi-weekly over the last three years into a book.

When Al and I met for me to get a copy of the book, he told me to open the cover and read what was printed on the facing page. There was a thank you to several people, and to me for convincing him he could write a column!

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UW Fiesta Bowl fans may mention George Wilson's star role

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As University of Washington football fans gather in the Phoenix area this week in anticipation of Saturday's Fiesta Bowl pitting their Huskies against Penn State, there will be the usual reflections on and toasts to the great UW teams and stars of the past that set the model for the 2017 team.

Inevitably, someone ticking off great bowl games of Husky past will note that it was in 1924 that UW played in its first Rose Bowl game a 14-14 tie with Navy, and returned two years later to lose to Alabama, 20-19. When that's mentioned, it's possible the name George Wilson will come up in the context of those first Rose Bowl, which came about because of his nationally recognized performance.

But it's possible not much time will be spent discussing the life and deeds of the man who might legitimately be described as UW's first football star because his career from 1923-25 that included the first two Rose Bowl appearances is shrouded in gridiron antiquity for most fans. After all, his record was established almost nine decades ago, but the curious or those hungry for a bit of history can learn about him on various websites. 
 
I first wrote of Wilson four years ago when then-Husky star Bishop Sankey broke the school single-season rushing record and also tied Wilson's UW record for most touchdowns. There was little more than a mention of the man who set the record but since it was a tie, Wilson's name is left in the Husky record book 90-plus years on.
 
Those who take the time to delve into Husky history are left to ponder Wilson's story, which epitomizes the fleetingness of fame and the fickleness of fate. For less than a decade his star shone brightly on the national football stage, first as a collegian then as a highly publicized pro football player. In fact, he was so prominent a collegiate football star that he not only starred as a pro but had an entirely new professional league created partly for him. And a team in that league was named for him.
 
Then, unlike some of his high-visibility football peers who managed to parlay fame into later successful careers, he personally faded rapidly from the scene, doing some professional wrestling for a few years, working in the Texas oil fields, then as a longshoreman in San Francisco, dying on the dock there of a heart attack in 1963.
 
But in an example of the often strange links in the chain of fortune forged by fate, Wilson, at the highly publicized outset of his pro football career, set the stage for a little-noted player from Gonzaga College named Ray Flaherty to launch a professional career in which he went on to become one of the most successful coaches in the history of the NFL.
 
Wilson, nicknamed "Wildcat," was a kid from Everett who had already fashioned a name for himself as a high school player who guided his Everett team to what was acknowledged to be the nation's best high school football team two years in a row, before arriving on the UW campus.
 
Although the Huskies prior to Wilson's arrival had some noteworthy accomplishments, including the record of Gil Dobie, whose pre-World War I teams posted a remarkable 58-0-3 record, though performances in those early days in the West got little national visibility.
 
Wilson, however, brought national recognition to the Huskies. In addition to guiding UW to those Rose Bowl appearances, he was a first-team All-America selection in his senior year in an All-Star backfield that might vie for the best ever, a backfield that included "Red" Grange, the "Galloping Ghost" from Illinois, and Stanford's Ernie Nevers, plus Wilson.
 
Upon his graduation in 1926, Wilson was enticed to join the just-forming American Football League (not the AFL of later decades) by the league's co-founder, who had already lured Grange to join the league as his partner but wanted a name player to compete with Grange on the field.
 
Wilson was named the president of the league's traveling team, the Los Angeles Wildcats. The league actually paid the bills and filed the franchise ownership papers for the team known as "Wilson's Western Wildcats," actually based in Chicago because of the travel difficulty of being based in Los Angeles in those days.
 
Grange's traveling all-stars and Wilson's Wildcats actually met on the field once that season, in Los Angeles before a crowd of 70,000. While Grange's squad, which later became the Chicago Bears, won the game, 17-7, Wilson outgained Grange, rushing for 128 yards to 30 for grange.
 
Wilson stocked his team with players from the West, including two from Gonzaga College in Spokane. In addition to Flaherty, an end, he tapped Matty Bross, a halfback, to be part of the western stars' team.
 
Ironically, as Wilson's star would quickly fade, Flaherty, who hadn't gained much attention as a collegian at a small school removed from high-visibility opportunities, went on to make pro football his career. After his year with the Wildcats, he moved to the New York Giants, where he was an all-star end, then became head coach of the Washington Redskins, where his four trips to the NFL title game and two championships earned him acknowledgment as one of the NFL's all-time best coaches.
 
Choosing Flaherty for his Wildcats and thus earning credit for setting the stage for what followed is a contribution not mentioned in the sports history books, and perhaps not other than this column.
 
The AFL didn't last and Wilson joined the Providence Steam Rollers of the NFL, where he played for three seasons, including 1928 when Providence won the NFL championship and Wilson scored five touchdowns and had four interceptions to lead the team that year.
 
There is still another irony, or perhaps small-world aspect, to Wilson's story. It's that another Gonzaga College player, Houston Stockton, was guiding the Frankfort Yellowjackets (later the Philadelphia Eagles) to the NFL title in 1926 while Wilson's Wildcats were gaining attention.
 
Stockton's statistics as a collegian were almost as impressive as Wilson's, including a 77-0 Gonzaga victory over Wyoming in which Stockton scored six touchdowns and kicked 10 extra points.  
 
In that era when players played both offense and defense, both Wilson and Stockton were viewed as stars on defense as well as offense and were regarded as punishing tacklers.
 
But Stockton's exploits got scant attention, being played out at a little school in out-of-the-way Spokane. His national recognition was limited to twice being named an honorable mention All-America.
  
Stockton, the grandfather of NBA Hall-of-Famer John Stockton, had joined the Steamrollers and was a teammate of Wilson's for the 1929 season before he returned home to Spokane to go into business and Wilson left football to begin his mysterious decline from fame and attention.
  
Wilson's years away from the limelight were interrupted only twice for reminders of what had been, once when he was inducted into the football Hall of Fame and in 1959 when he was invited home to UW, by Post-Intelligencer Sports Editor Royal Brougham, to be honored prior to the Huskies Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.
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The Lost Art of TeleType Art Spreads Holiday Cheer

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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. The celebration of Christmas is not shared by all of my friends. In fact, those friends have, to my good fortune, become a varied array of national origins and religions. But the values that Christmas embodies for those who cherish it transcend national or religious differences and should be shared and cherished by all with this season as a reminder.

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Holiday teletype art: greetings from communications era pastIn 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 newsrooms 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 occasionally flawed keystrokes that occurred when the 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 the annual sharing of this Christmas art.
    
Happy Holidays!

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Trip of a Lifetime for Disadvantaged Kids - Spokane 'Fantasy Flight' to the North Pole

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Steve Paul likes to say he has aged dramatically in his 17 years guiding the annual North Pole Fantasy Flight from Spokane International Airport, a magical trip for which Alaska Airlines provides a 737-900 to carry a planeload of orphans and foster children and their elves to Santa's home. Paul, who was 43 in people years when he first got involved in 2000, says his elf age as Chief Elf Bernie is 907 years, but that is really only middle age for elves so he still has a ways to go.

Paul, president, and CEO of Northwest North Pole Adventures, the nonprofit group that runs the event and raises the funds for it over the course of each year, is reflecting on last Saturday’s 10th year of partnership with Alaska and the magic that again unfolded this annual flight to the North Pole to meet with Santa and Mrs. Clause.

The children, ages 4 to 10, from shelter programs in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, ID, are brought to the airport and each meets his or her "buddy elf," volunteers selected over the course of the year.  

Then, with the help of the TSA workers, who look the other way as metal jingle bells on the kids' and elves' clothing set off alarms, they all pass through security and board the Alaska flight. It's flight 1225 until the jetliner is aloft, then it becomes Santa 1.

Before boarding their plane, the children are fed and receive backpacks filled with school supplies, winter woolies and a T-shirt that says, "I Believe" on the front and "I've Been to the North Pole" on the back. Then their "passports" are validated with the "North Pole Approved" stamp and they're on their way to a magical time the elves, Elf Bernie and Alaska's employees will try to make unforgettable.
 
"When we send out invitations to the kids who have been selected, we have them give us a wish list of what they want for Christmas," explains Paul, who refers to himself as "a believer in impossible things."  "We take those lists and buy each of them a toy from that list, so as each child tells Santa what he or she wants, Santa can reach into his bag and pull that present out for them. The looks on their faces as he hands it to them is priceless."
 
As evidence that nothing is left to chance, Paul, who in his less magical role is senior IT project manager at Ecova, a national energy management company based in Spokane, told me the elves are advised on how to play their roles convincingly. That includes when they choose an elf name they are told: "make certain your elf character fits you and get comfortable with your new identity."
 
The elves' prepping includes knowing how to answer questions from the children. For example, if asked what their jobs are, they say "I fix broken toys, using toy tools," and if asked how old they are, to say "I am 438 this year which is still young for an Elf."
 
Paul guides all details of the event through the year, preparing for the flight, working with social agencies that select the children, gathering sponsors and overseeing details like elf selection.
 
United was the airline partner for the first eight years and provided the little organization that was then called North Pole Adventure with a plane that, once loaded with the children, taxied around the airport before coming to a stop at Santa's place.

But when United was unable to provide a plane in 2007, Paul recalls: "we threw together the 'magic buses' to get from the Terminal to the North Pole."

For the 2008 flight, Paul approached Alaska, which he notes "is, of course, more familiar with the North Pole than any other airline." Its executives said "sure" and asked, "why can't we actually take off with the kids?" So, in fact, they did, carrying 60 kids and their elves aloft for a 20-minute flight to Santa's home. And so it has been since then.

"Honestly, Spokane is the North Pole and we have an airline that is passionate about serving this adventure," Paul enthused.
 
I asked Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska's vice president of external relations, for a quote to sum up the airline's commitment: "Alaska Airlines has been proud to bring joy, and generosity to some kids who need a little holiday magic," said.  "Our employees have stepped up for 10 years to take kids on the ride of a lifetime.  It's the magic of giving back that makes the holidays so worthwhile."

Perhaps the most visible in his commitment is Alaska pilot Eric Hrivnak, who shares the duties at the controls this year with Michel Baumgartner. Hrivnak has been a pilot at the controls for a half dozen or so years by being at the front of the line as Alaska employees sign up for roles. He was beaten to the request by another pilot three years ago so made sure that wouldn't happen thereafter.
 
Hrivnak and his Alaska crew are part of the magic since as the flight nears its conclusion, the passengers are told to pull the window shades down and chant the magic words that will allow them to land at the North Pole.
 
As the kids pull down their shades and do a chant, each wave a magic light wand they were given as they boarded and then Hrivnak deploys the engine thrusters when Santa and Rudolph appear on the radar screen, providing the confirmation that the "Santa 1" flight has entered North Pole airspace.
 
The jetliner taxis to a hanger on the other side of the airport, where the passengers are greeted by a group of elves, with live reindeer milling about, and are they taken to meet Santa and Mrs. Clause. 
 
Paul's planning for the future includes both preparing for passing the torch at some point, creating a more reliable funding source and having a plan in case some other Alaska-served city wishes to do its own event.
 
"This year we offered a 'boot camp' to Alaska Air for any other stations that would like to learn and start building their own version of the Fantasy Flight," he said. "Not sure we'll have anyone attend this year, but it's part of our go-forward plan."
 
In terms of torch-passing, Paul said he continues to "look at what I personally do that can be delegated. I spend more time after the event documenting what I did, what I re-did because of a change."
 
"We have a tradition of reflection on the past year's event that we call 'Snowflakes and Snowball'. Snowflakes are things that we did or tried that were GREAT and we should continue to do that while Snowballs are things that were either difficult or bad, and we work the whole year coming up with ways to improve on those."
 
And he says the event had its first fundraising auction in September, raising "above our first-year goal. This will be an annual event each September."

I first learned of the event in 2011 from my friend, Blythe Thimsen, then editor of a Spokane magazine who was to be an elf that year, an experience she shared with me then subsequently wrote about and sent me a copy of the article.

Retelling and updating this story has been my holiday gift to readers of The Harp since then because it's a story of human caring and compassion that not only won't get old but perhaps becomes more needed each year. I like to refer to it as "the magic dust of caring" that descends over all those involved.
 
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Spokane isn’t the only holiday flight for Alaska Airlines, incidentally.

Since 2006, Alaska has donated cargo shipments to the Alaska Toys for Tots program, shipping thousands of pounds of toys to regional hubs so that they can be distributed to children throughout rural Alaska.

Alaska’s involvement in the program is especially important since only three of the 19 communities involved are accessible by road.

Another tradition for the airline in its home state is the Flight to Adak, a tradition started in 2005 by now-retired Alaska Captain Rex Gray who with his flight crews would purchase toys for the roughly 30 children who call Adak home and who gathered at the airport as the plane arrived. After the passengers cleared the aircraft, Gray would quickly change into his Santa costume, and carry the toys off the plane with the help of the rest of the flight crew dressed as elves.

Today, Alaska Captains and Flight Attendants carry on the tradition, coordinating with the City of Adak, which is located in the Aleutian Chain nearly 1,200 miles from Anchorage with its own time zone, to purchase an age-appropriate gift for each child in Adak.

The crews and local Adak station employees host a community reception at the Adak terminal, where each child is called up by name to receive their gift and a photo with Santa
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Durkan faces decision on tax-ruling appeal that may help define her as mayor

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It's quite likely that Jenny Durkan won't get through her first day of business after she is sworn in tomorrow as Seattle's first woman mayor in more than 90 years before she has to make a decision that could help define how she will be perceived as Seattle's chief executive.

The issue is the ill-framed and now court-rejected Seattle city income tax and whether or not the city will appeal the decision made by King County Superior Court Judge John Ruhl late afternoon of the day before Thanksgiving, giving those involved a long weekend to think about what now with the case.  

And those thinking about "what now" undoubtedly includes Durkan, who has said she favors the income tax but is also on record, the day she announced her candidacy last May, that while she views the state's tax system as too regressive, she doubts that a city income tax is the right solution.  

But that was before the city council that she will have to work with approved the income tax measure in July, enacting a resolution supporters called a "wealth tax," amid cheers from those in attendance of "tax the rich!"  

It was actually referred to as a tax on high incomes, 2 percent of the amount above $200,000 for an individual or $500,000 for those filing jointly. Perhaps spurred by the cheers from the gallery, the amount was boosted to 2.25 percent, a move criticized by opponents as an action driven by little more than a whim.

Judge Ruhl found that the city had no authority under state law to impose the tax, in fact, was in violation of two state statutes, and rejected the city contention that what was called an income tax was actually an excise tax for the privilege of earning a living in Seattle. A cynic might suggest that if you are trying to sell a pig, and call it a stallion, it might bring a better price.

As Ruhl wrote: the City's tax, which is labeled 'Income Tax,' is exactly that. It cannot be restyled as an 'excise tax' on the ... 'privileges' of receiving revenue in Seattle or choosing to live in Seattle."

Within minutes after Judge Ruhl issued his 27-page decision, one viewed as thorough and comprehensive, and well beyond the detail that at least appellant attorneys expected, the office of Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said they will be appealing the decision to the state Supreme Court.  

Since there was no instant need for the city attorney's office (there was no indication that the statement came from Holmes rather than from someone in the office late day who was asked by the media, "are you going to appeal?"), it surprised many that there was no indication of intent to consult the soon-to-be mayor.

It may come as a surprise, and irritant, to members of the city council that they have no say in the decision of whether or not to appeal. That decision rests on the mayor and the city attorney, but it's impossible to envision the decision would be made without consultation between the two, and approval from the mayor.

From the time the measure was passed, there was acknowledgement that the goal was to get the issue of an income tax before a state supreme court that, proponents hope, will ignore court rules as well as its own precedents that a net income tax is unconstitutional and quickly seize this case as an opportunity to open the door for a state income tax.

So despite the fact that constitutionality of the city's income tax was not part of Judge Ruhl's deliberations and decision, the forces viewing the income tax as vital to correcting a regressive state tax system are hoping the court will decide the case offers an opportunity too good to pass up, regardless of its rules.

Durkan is universally regarded as a smart and courageous attorney. Deciding what to do about an appeal of Ruhl's decision will give her opportunity to call on both qualities.
The reality is that continuing to needlessly stoke the fuels of anger over economic distinctions that the "tax the rich" mantra has brought is of little long-term value to the city.  

Any law school graduate knows that in Washington State, among many states, a losing party can ask the supreme court to review the lower court decision, but unless some glaring error leaps out, the high court procedure is to tell an appellant "take your issue to the court of appeals."  

So since Durkan is well aware that there is little likelihood the state high court would agree to bypass the state appellate court and grant direct review, she would have to be pandering to the city council's loudest voices to seek supreme court review, at the expense of smoothing over the Seattle political divide. And perhaps enlist a broad coalition in a goal of working to change the state's tax structure, a goal that will require support across the political spectrum.

There is no doubt that Durkan will clash with the council's loudest voices, or more accurately loudest mouth, since Kshama Sawant prides herself on not having any Republican friends and Durkan has friends across the political spectrum, including a brother who is a Republican lobbyist.

Intriguingly, as it relates to any mayoral concern about smooth relations, members of the city council didn't wait for Durkan to shed her "Mayor-Elect" title before they thoughtlessly planned to cut her budget by $1 million, or 17 percent, in their search for dollars after the idea of a business head tax failed.

Fortunately, Mayor Tim Burgess, whose 71 days as interim mayor end when Durkan is sworn in, convinced the council it was unfair to the incoming mayor to cut such a chunk out of her budget, so they decided trim by about $500,000 the amount they were diverting. It's difficult not to be amused by the attack on a part of the mayor's budget given the fact the legislative branch budget is about twice the size of the mayor's but no one suggested that a portion come from both the mayor's and the council's budgets.

Oh, and it's amusing also that the amount being cut from the mayor' budget is about what the city has agreed to spend for legal expenses defending Sawant in suits for defamation over unfortunate outbursts in two separate cases.

But as to the point about Durkan helping define herself in how she decides on seeking a direct appeal, or any appeal on behalf of an obviously illegal Seattle statute.

She is likely to find broad support, including many in the business community who opposed the city tax because it was enacted despite it being obviously illegal, who would join in a legitimate campaign to change what most agree is a regressive state tax system.

But to begin such a broad-support effort she first has to move the City Council away from its goal of punishing the wealthy and instead focus on enlisting all segments of the population in creating a fair state tax structure.

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Kindness & Caring Change The World For The Families of Granger

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If you doubt that kindness and caring can change the world, then you're not familiar with the Yakima Valley town of Granger or the tiny non-profit called Families of Granger, created by Bellevue business leader Joan Wallace, that has been world changing for the children in the mostly Hispanic community. And for their families.

The story of the birth of the little 501c3 that is sustained almost entirely by an annual holiday email ask by Joan Wallace to her giving friends began 14 years ago at a Thanksgiving dinner in Granger as Wallace listened while her sister in law, Janet Wheaton, laments one aspect of the coming Christmas season.  

Wheaton, then principal of the Granger middle school, explained her worry that when school closes for the holiday season, the children do not receive the two free meals a day that they qualify for, and there is little food at home to feed them because most of the families are crop pickers who have no wintertime jobs.

Joan WallaceJoan WallaceBecause Wallace is a woman of action, almost instantly was born the idea of the email appeal to her friends and what soon became the 501c3 has grown in impact since then, with results that couldn't have been envisioned as she conceived the ask.

Her 14th email, which now raises the $35,000 that is almost the sole of money for the non-profit's budget, goes out next Monday. "At this time each year I am very aggressive about finding friends," she jokes, while husband Bob matches her sense of humor. "He told me 'If I let you near anyone at this time of year, you'll try to pick their pocket.'"

And thus this Thanksgiving season's Harp, as has been the case for almost a decade, is offered as the annual information update on what I referred to the first time I wrote about this story of caring as a "Michelangelo Moment" for a growing number of people in the Puget Sound area and Yakima Valley.

The money raised each Thanksgiving appeal goes for Christmas gift cards and food baskets purchased locally at the grocery in Granger, and, in the spirit of the season, sent anonymously to Granger's neediest families.  

She says that last year, 125 of the poorest families in one of the poorest communities, with 86 percent of the families Hispanic, got $50 gift cards to use at Walmart and $75 food baskets purchased to use at the local Hispanic grocery.

But over the years, the money has also gone to provide emergency clothing needs through the year and a few years ago she and Wheaton and their local supporters created an annual summer camp.

Wallace will be sharing with her email recipients that a years-long effort to get a splash park for the kids is about to come to fruition, due partly to the fact the number of snow-day makeups made it impossible to have the month-long summer camp so that money was available for another use.  

"We put the funds into a match for development of a splash park since Granger doesn't have a pool, summers are hot, and pools are expensive to run," she explained.
So the community gave, the 501c3 provided some funds and the city provided the land and agreed to fund maintenance for a splash park, which she describes as "basically a tricked-up sprinkler system that will now be open in May."

In her annual email, Wallace will say the past year "had its triumphs and griefs, as on one end of the spectrum our motivational program to reduce absenteeism resulted in Granger again standing out again against all schools in the state.

"Our saddest contribution was to provide clothing for a family of eight children when their father murdered their mother," Wallace said. "Their home had become a crime scene and they were locked out.

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

And the result in terms of attitudes of the families has been manifested with the successful campaign of students, parents, and teachers at the middle school two years ago to build a program to improve attendance, using the slogan that became a mantra, "Every Child, Every desk, Every day."

Driven by the attendance-campaign slogan, the school set the state mark for best attendance record in the state, with an absentee rate of 4 percent, compared to a statewide average of 16 percent absenteeism.  

The accomplishment promoted the creation of a special award, called Innovations in Education, that was presented at a banquet in Seattle in May of 2016 with support from the Discovery Institute, the Seattle law firm Patterson Buchanan, Kemper Development Co., Q-13 Fox and Sound Publishing.


They didn't win the honor this past year, but apparently came close and are focused this year on getting back on top.
 
Oh, and as for the "Michelangelo Moment," the story of Granger and the 501c3 that Wallace and Wheaton started, and the support that sprang up to support it brought to mind the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, where the outreached finger of the almighty touches mankind.
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Marine Corp Birthday Near - Marines' Always Brothers are fundraising

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Friday's 242nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps will be a time for many of those who are or were Marines to focus on their time in "The Corps." And one of those is Maple Valley Attorney Dan Nielsen, who helped create an event called Always Brothers 100 Mile Memorial Run to raise money for families of Marines killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Nielsen, a founder, and treasurer of the board of the event recalled in an interview how he and 12 fellow Marines who had all served on Presidential Guard Duty in the mid-'90s teamed in 2011 to honor the memory of one of their own by establishing the 100-mile run.

dan nielsenDan NielsenNielsen remembered that Always Brothers began its signature 100-mile honor run in August of 2011 for Capt. Tyler Swisher, a Marine Corps brother who lost his life in October 2005 and who had served on Presidential Guard duty with the Always Brothers founders and board members. Swisher was killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq in 2005.

That first run, called "100 Miles for Swisher," began at Camp David with a goal of finishing at Swisher's grave at Arlington. But Nielsen remembers that "we needed to run a couple of times around the national mall to be sure we actually did 100 miles and when we did the mall, a couple Marines who were then on Presidential Guard ran along with us."

The 100-mile run over the next four years became an annual event, in different locations,
to honor fallen Marines and Navy Corpsmen who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan by raising money for the education of their children.  

Two of the runs have been in Ohio. The first was to raise money families of Lima Company, 22 of whose Marines and one Navy corpsman were killed in Iraq in 2005 when the vehicle in which they were riding was blown up.

Seattle was the location for runs in 2013 and 2014 with the second done in conjunction with Marine Week.  The beneficiaries were six children who lost a parent in In Iraq and Afghanistan from areas where our board members are from.

Circumstances interrupted the run after 2015, though Nielsen promised it will resume in 2018 "somewhere, maybe Seattle, or California." 

I met Nielsen last month when we happened to sit next to each other at the annual Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF) dinner, an event held in various states to raise money for scholarships for children of U.S. Marines. It was being held in Seattle for the fourth time. We were both there as one-time Marines, supporting the event chaired this year by retired Marine major general Tracy Garrett.

Ret. Maj. Gen. Tracy GarrettRet. Maj. Gen. Tracy GarrettThe Always Brothers board made the MCSF the beneficiary of their 100-mile event fundraising in 2015 when they established an endowed scholarship in Tyler Swisher's name.

Reflecting on the success of the 2017 dinner, retired general Garrett said the event raised about $477,000 for the national fund.

"We have raised more than $2 million since the start of the Seattle dinner," she said. "There are so many good causes to support. We are thankful that Northwesterners are choosing MCSF as a way to recognize the sacrifices made by Marines and their families in the 16 long years that we have been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan."
 
Nielsen chuckled during our interview, following the MCSF dinner, as he reflected on the first 100-mile run, telling me he wasn't a runner then or now, though he stays fit (he's now 44) with some weight lifting. So he had some physical challenges getting ready for the first event. He says he actually completed 85 miles, with some rest stops along the way.  
 
Offering a lesson in how an ordinary guy prepares for a 100-mile run, Nielsen, who grew up in Yakima, said "at first, you do a lot of running, like five to seven miles some days, sometimes 20 miles on a Saturday with the important focus on building back, core and leg strength."
 
"It took about 27 hours and I stopped at 50 miles to change socks," he said. "at about mile 60 I ate a hamburger and got the shakes so had I had to stop for several hours."
 
"One of the neat things is this is not a race," Nielsen emphasized. "We start together and end together. We have guys like me that are not really runners while some guys are really good, guys who find it just as hard to slow down as it is for us to try to speed up."

2014 Seattle run coin2014 Seattle run coinAn unusual aspect of the run is that a coin, slightly larger and thicker than a silver dollar, was created in 2013 for the Seattle run. It was intended, as Nielsen put it, "as a constant tribute to the reason why we are doing what we do with the one side showing honor to Tyler and pointing out where we served together -Marine Barracks 8th and I, WHCA (White House communications agency) and Camp David. The opposite side symbolizes the purpose and location of each run."
 
"We usually have 300 coins made each year and we give them to runners, supporters, and the people we meet along the way who inspire us or who we've inspired," Nielsen said.
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Autonomous vehicles will drive WA state's future

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There is a growing conviction among influential leaders in Washington state, ranging from the governor through local elected officials and business executives, that autonomous vehicles will play a key role in this state's transportation future.

If 2016 was the year of the train in the Puget Sound area with discussion and debate over the nation's most expensive transit ballot measure ever, the $54 billion ST-3 to build a regional rail infrastructure over the next 25 years, then 2017 could be the year of the first meaningful steps toward a future of reinvented highway vehicles.  

But the first actual, autonomous "wheels on the road" project in this state could get underway in early 2018 in the City of SeaTac, the municipality that includes Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.  

But as meaningful steps toward what I'll call - aCars, or even what's being referred to as semi-autonomous vehicles that will have a driver at the ready, begin emerging, proponents will need to develop a plan to deal with the inevitable pushback from the disruptive idea of vehicles without drivers.

Gov. Jay Inslee, whose support will be essential to overcome the objections that emerge, set the stage for a strong focus on autonomous vehicles when he issued an executive order in June to put the state behind autonomous vehicle development efforts, including allowing companies to test drive them on state roads.

A month later his office welcomed the robot vehicle from a Virginia company that was spun out from Virginia Tech after it was safely driven, as a semi-autonomous vehicle, across the country, and through Washington state without incident.

Nothing is as far along in this state as the Virginia company, called Torc Robotics, but a couple of noteworthy efforts are underway that could attract increasing attention, and not just in this state. One is in Bellevue, where a focus on autonomous vans (we can refer to them as A-vans,), paid for without public subsidy, is occurring. The other is in the City of SeaTac, which would be a project logical by the proximity of airport-related businesses and the amount of traffic they and the airport itself generate.

The focus on autonomous multi-passenger vans is the brainchild of Steve Marshall, manager of the City of Bellevue's Transportation Technology Partnership, and Charles Collins, who has been active in exploring transportation and commute issues since his days as the second director of King County Metro in the late 1970s. Collins created the King County vanpool system that has become the most successful in the country.

The transportation experience and expertise of Marshall and Collins have probably put them at the peak of the pyramid from which to envision what lies ahead for autonomous vehicles. And from that perspective, both see a van-focused future of autonomous vehicles

Before taking the Bellevue post on May 1, Marshall was executive director of the Center for Advanced Transportation and Energy Solutions (CATES). He has more than 30 years of experience working on energy and transportation issues, including serving as chief outside legal counsel to Puget Sound Power & Light as a partner at the law firm of Perkins Coie.  

It is CATES, now under the executive leadership of John Niles who replaced Marshall, that is helping guide the City of SeaTac through evaluation of a program employing driverless shuttle mini-buses or vans on City of SeaTac roads, providing supplementary service between Sea-Tac Airport and hotel locations.

Another example of what could emerge City of SeaTac activities would be small, quiet, electric shuttles connecting light rail stations and transit centers with residential neighborhoods.

Niles told me he is putting together recommendations that he calls an Action Plan that, once accepted by the staff of the SeaTac City Council, likely by the end of the year, would be available for review by citizens to make it ready for action by the council, probably in January.  

The effort by the City of SeaTac, which has charted for itself the goal of becoming a Center for Municipal Excellence, has gotten advance approval by both South Transit and Metro.

Approval by the SeaTac council would, as Niles explains it, be "steps on how to proceed on automated first-last mile small vehicle, driver-less automated transit for citizens to use to reach light rail stations, employment sites within City of SeaTac, and community centers and services."

"There will probably be a phase one pilot serving only part of the City," he added. "I am aiming for deployment of proven technology already tested elsewhere and proved to be safe."

In a comment directed at those concerned about driverless vehicles, Niles offered that the way his robotic micro-transit vehicles would work in SeaTac is with a control center keeping an eye out for trouble and dispatching help when needed."

Niles' comment addressed one of the key roadblocks to be overcome by the forces arrayed on behalf of an autonomous future, the concern of many drivers about the pervasive presence of vehicles without a driver. But other hurdles are already emerging in other states, concerns that will play out here, from forces restless about lost jobs like cab or truck drivers, auto repair and service businesses who won't have cars to repair and even insurance companies fearful of providing a product eventually not needed.

Part of the pushback could come from Sound Transit's board which is bound to see the early hints of buyers' remorse on the part of voters who approved ST-3 in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties last November grow as new unexpected costs emerge while development of the autonomous van fleet takes hold.

By 2022, almost two decades before ST-3's rail network is completed, clues to its obsolescence will be offered as that's the year the first van test for 100 autonomous vehicles is scheduled, likely opening the way for thousands of such vehicles on area highways, without public cost.

And the betting is that those who can summon a van to take them where they want to go for a small fee will likely not opt to queue up for a train, thus further diminishing the modest passenger-use expectations of Sound Transit.

Those whose reaction to ST-3 was a "how can they vote for this? Do they really think it's required of those who care about the environment to vote to create a network of trains?" may well react with amusement to the cost of ST-3 beyond just dollars becomes clear.

The fact that was never shared with voters but will be shared as the reality sets in is that the greenhouse gas generated over the years of construction will never be paid back by people riding a train rather than driving or being conveyed in a vehicle.

An intriguing development for emerging use of autonomous vehicles is the fact that Kemper Freeman's Kemper Development Co. and its Bellevue Square expects to begin next year offering customers, many assumedly loaded with purchases, an autonomous-vehicle ride back to their cars parked on site.

Marshall offers a whimsical view of past as prologue to public acceptance of autonomous travel. One is the case of his grandfather who, after working his Palouse fields on horseback all day, tied the reins to the saddle horn and slumped over to sleep on the way home, confident his horse could "drive" itself back to the barn.

Plus he offers the example of elevators. When the years of people greeting the operator as they entered for the ride up began to give way to elevators without operators, there were some passengers who fought off discomfort. Then automatic elevators became universal, to the point when, if a person is operating it, some people may wonder "is something wrong with this elevator?"

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NOT 'some white dude' - The New Face of Biotech in Washington

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As M3 Biotechnology Inc. launches clinical trials on its therapy for Alzheimer's that is expected to halt the progression of, or even reverse, the disease, it's a satisfying development for those who have been believers in the role of the company and its CEO at the leading edge of the new field of regenerative medicine.

So when Melinda Gates lamented, before a large audience of women in computing, that the technology industry was dominated by a "sea of white dudes," one group who heard the message could be forgiven if its members, mostly men but including a couple of talented women, shared a knowing smile.  

Leen KawasLeen KawasThey knew that, despite the general accuracy of Melinda Gates comments, the CEO who has become the face of biotech in this state and even beyond is a 32-year-old woman from Jordan named Leen Kawas.  

And although several members of the group were key women investors guided in part by the fact Kawas is a woman, the male supporters seemed far more focused on their belief in her ability to get the drug to commercialization then concerned about gender.

Thus Kawas was the beneficiary of believers who came to her aid as investors, mentors, and supporters because they were convinced that she had the ability to bring to market a drug that would alter the course of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and perhaps reverse them.

The manner in which Kawas, in just under four years as president and CEO of M3 Biotechnology Inc., took the young company from the lab toward commercialization and has ascended to virtually the top of the visibility pyramid in her industry is storybook material. But it's a satisfying example to many who are convinced that no doors remain closed to those who refuse to accept rejection.

When I first met Kawas in late summer of 2013, she had yet to know anyone in Seattle and was merely the chief scientist for M3, a company still immersed in the labs at Washington State University, where its drug was undergoing animal trials to test its seeming ability to spur cellular regrowth. That fact naturally led to neurological testing since if a drug could regrow cells, its future could be assured and, before long, Kawas had her name on several of the patents for the drug.

And soon she was tapped to be CEO by the two WSU profs who then owned the majority of the company because it was still in their labs. So the second time we visited was soon after that when she was seeking help in meeting people who might invest in a promising young company and its young CEO.  

When she returned to Seattle, she shared that the other 63 were all males and her reaction in discussing that fact in an almost dismissive manner was an early indication of how committed she was to overcome the pushback and discrimination and comfortably stand up to it and seek to change it.

As we began a process over the next several months of meeting those who could either invest or introduce us to investors, I told her, partly to see how she would handle the pressure, that I would get the first meeting for her to make her presentation but it would be in her hands for people to agree to a second meeting with us.

Early on we had a meeting in Orange County, CA, with Richard Sudek, perhaps the most important angel-investment leader in Southern California at the time as chair of the largest angel investment group in the country, the five-county Tech Coast Angels. I was hopeful he would be impressed enough to offer Kawas some advice on raising money.

When she finished her presentation, he said, to my pleasant surprise: "I would be happy to be a business advisor for you."

It was in the fall of 2014 that she had her media debut with an impressive interview with Q13 anchor Marne Hughes in which those watching at the studio said she looked like she had grown up on camera.


What followed were major features in local business publications as well as major visibility in the annual report of Association of Washington Business and Life Science Washington as well as participation in an array of panels on the industry as well as membership on Gov. Jay Inslee's committee on life sciences.
 
By then she had outgrown the need for introductions, except for an occasional desire by a major investor to get a friend into the mix.
 
And some of the funds she corralled told their own story of her growing reputation, as she got two grants from the state's Life Science Discovery Fund totaling $750,000, an impressive $1.7 million from the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Fund and a half million dollars from the Dolby Family Fund.
 
So now almost exactly four years on, M3 has raised more than $17 million from investors who represent a most impressive array of seasoned leaders, both men, and women, from a mix of the world of life science and enthused investors and some who simply have a commitment to changing the world of degenerative disease. And the company has begun initial human trials from which the future will be shaped.
 
And meanwhile, biotech giants are lurking in the wings to reach out to seek major stakes in the young company at the first sign of success.
 
As an aside, M3 is the first company to emerge from either of the state's research universities to reach clinical trials, a fact viewed by WSU as a major biotech coup.
 
So what stirred the interest of investors?

As Biotech icon Bruce Montgomery replied when I asked him why he had become a supporter of Kawas' and a key investor in M3 and a board member, he replied: "It frankly didn't occur to me to dwell on whether she was female or non-caucasian. I understood the science of what she was hoping to achieve and felt she had the ability to achieve it."

It was a sentiment echoed by investor and M3 board, chair John Fluke, no stranger to investing in startup entrepreneurs.
 
Jim Warjone, now retired from his roles as chairman and CEO of Port Blakely Companies, told me some months after deciding to invest, following one of what I refer to as an array of examples of fate helping guide Kawas on her road to success, "She's the smartest person I have ever met."
 
The touch of fate with Warjone came when Kawas was about to present to a group of which I was a member at Suncadia in August of 2015 and I went out to get some coffee, encountering Warjone, whom I hadn't seen in several years, in the lobby of the resort.
 
"What are you doing here?" he asked and when I told him, he asked if he could sit in, which he did, so he was among the half-dozen who heard her presentation, and was one of the two who decided to invest.
 
Michael Nassirian, longtime Microsoft top executive, who watched his father, a business executive in Persia, wither mentally and die of Alzheimer's, told me his goal was to do something "to change the magnitude of that disease. And when I heard Leen present and went to the M3 site and studied their successful step, I believed she and her company could provide a solution to Alzheimer's."
 
As to the women investors, who make no apologies for their financial support of Kawas because she is a female as well as talented CEO, I have found each to be amazing talents attracted to invest in the CEO and becoming her friend.
 
I asked Amber Caska, who has guided family funds for Paul Allen's Vulcan and Alphabet chair Eric Schmidt and is now president and chief operating officer of women-entrepreneur focused Portfolia in the Bay Area, why she had invested in M3.
 
"When I met her at a JPM Morgan Bio Conference dinner, I did further diligence and figured that not only was she extremely intelligent and driven, M3 was a compelling investment opportunity and backed by a very reputable science team and board. I knew that M3 was onto something incredible and I wanted to support her along the way."
 
Carol Criner, who has served as CEO and turnaround executive at an array of companies in various industries, was the second person I introduced Kawas to. When I asked her about her decision to invest, she said:
 
"I was more personally invested in supporting her as a young, female CEO.  I became a business advisor to Leen, both because of your encouragement, and that I was fueled by wanting to see Leen succeed.," Criner said.
 
"Now that she is a celebrity CEO, it's hard to imagine this all began a few short years ago," said Criner. "I witnessed her face the headwinds of giant egos and sexism with resilience. She never gave-up. Her success largely silenced a lot of vocal-doubters. I love it.  She's amazing and strong."
 
 In discussing her much smaller sector of the burgeoning tech industry in the Puget Sound area, I once overheard her compelling reply to a young entrepreneur quizzing her on why it was necessary to distinguish high tech from biotech sectors, as long as tech jobs were coming to the area in large numbers.
 
"Technology is the field that will help us build new devices to be held in the hand. Biotech will help us build a new hand," she replied. "Which would you prefer to be part of helping develop as an industry?"
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New pro basketball league footprint will include area cities

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Yakima will field a team in the fledgling North American Premier Basketball League (NAPB) meaning the newest professional basketball league will have at least two Northwest cities in its footprint when the circuit begins play in January, and another closer to Seattle could be announced soon.

Yakima, where the SunKings once dominated the old Continental Basketball Association, will field a team, joining six other cities ranging from Vancouver, B.C., to Albany and Rochester, NY that will have teams in the new league.

David Magley, a one-time basketball academic all-American at Kansas who has been traveling the country nonstop for the past few months seeking to create the new league by selling a mix of memories and opportunity, made the announcement of the Yakima ownership Tuesday. And he says he may soon have an owner in a city that could assuage some of the Seattle area's hunger for professional men's basketball pending the likely return of the NBA to Seattle somewhere in the future.

The team will be owned by Yakima businessman and orchardist Jaime Campos, who quickly announced a major coup with the landing of Paul Woolpert as Coach and General Manager, bringing home the coach who landed three of Yakima's five CBA titles while becoming the fifth winningest coach in the CBA.

Magley's presentation, being capitalized on in the 60 cities around the country that once had professional basketball teams, including a few that are former NBA cities, is apparently having an impact since in addition to the seven, possibly eight, that begin play in January, Magley has a half dozen others queuing up to join in 2019.

The lineup of cities for the launch of the league, in addition to Yakima, includes former NBA cities Vancouver, Kansas City and Rochester, NY, plus Albany, NY, Akron, OH, Owensboro, KY.

Albany and Yakima were once leading teams in the CBA, with both cities producing large crowds and healthy profits for the teams, before the impact of the Great Recession drove the league to cease operations in 2009. Thus the names Patroons, which the Albany team carried for more than three decades, and the SunKings, which Yakima's CBA carried during its existence, will be resurrected.

Magley, 56, was commissioner of the National Basketball League of Canada until a year ago and says the idea of a new pro basketball league began taking shape in early summer when he began searching for a partner and began pursuing potential ownership in various cities across the country and Canada.

Unique to this league is the fact that players will be expected to spend time with kids and in, which, with the pervasiveness of social media are expected to bring the teams close to their communities.

Campos says he was attracted to owning the Yakima team partly by Magley's explaining that the league's emphasis on "community impact" will have its players active in the school systems delivering messages about self-worth, anti-bullying, dangers of drugs and alcohol and value of staying in school.

The way Campo, 41, whose electrical contracting company is his primary business, put it: "I wanted to do something for kids in the community and that's not a cliché."
"I hope not to lose too much money as we get this thing going," he added. "The in four or five years we can put together a competitive team."

Campos added that if things go well, he might want to have two teams in Northern Mexico in 2019, which Magley notes would give the league a true North American footprint with teams from Canada to Mexico since several Canadian cities have expressed interest in having a team for the 2019 season.

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Thoughts of the president of UNLV in reflecting on nation's worst mass slaying

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Compassion and caring aren't the first words that would come to most peoples' minds when they think of Las Vegas with its glitz and glamour. But compassion, love, and unity are the words Len Jessup, President of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, used to describe the community's response to the horror of the nation's worst mass shooting.

LenJessupLen Jessup"What amazes me is how this campus and the entire community came together, so quickly, so compassionately, and with so much love and unity," Jessup said in an email to me in response to my question of how his campus, faculty, and students had fared.

"Within minutes, our Thomas and Mack arena was fully staffed and served all night long as a shelter for hundreds of victims," said Jessup, who is finishing his third year as president of UNLV "And within minutes, in the middle of the night, community members got word and brought blankets, sleeping bags, pillows, food, water, coffee, etc, for the victims."

The Thomas and Mack Center is the home of the Runnin' Rebels basketball team that once was the key to national visibility for the university, founded 60 years ago this year as a small, branch campus of Reno-based University of Nevada.

But in the future, the university and its arena may be remembered for the role both played in helping the community deal with the victims of the tragedy and the aftermath.

"Nurses and counselors showed up on their own to comfort folks, and Uber and Lyft drivers and countless community members showed up in cars to take victims wherever they needed to go for free," Jessup added. "Countless acts of love and compassion like that happened all that night and all week here in this community, showing what locals know well, that LV is truly a wonderful community."

Jessup is still dealing with the impact of the mass killings at the open-air concert on his UNLV community of students, faculty and staff. A former student was among the 58 killed in the hail of bullets fired down from an upper floor of Mandalay Bay Hotel. He reported that four students and one staff member, an assistant coach of the hockey club, were among the wounded and one student sustained an injury trying to escape.

Jessup's regard for how members of his university and the broader community responded said something about his regard for both that have developed since he arrived in January of 2015 as UNLV's 10th president.

I got to know Jessup as a member of his national advisory board when he was dean of the Washington State University College of Business before he became president of the WSU Foundation and vice president for university development in May of 2005. Jessup filled the board with CEO-level executives from around the Northwest and beyond.

We have had the opportunity to reconnect on my occasional trips to Las Vegas. 

He left WSU to become dean of the Eller College of Management at his ala mater, the University of Arizona, and was instrumental in helping to build out that university's technology transfer and commercialization program, Tech Launch Arizona.

After honing his higher-education administrative leadership skills at WSU and University of Arizona, Jessup was ready when the right opportunity for a university presidency was offered from UNLV regents and he accepted at a time of dramatic challenge and change for the university and the city of 2.2 million.

Indeed Jessup's challenge when he arrived was to grow the impact and image of a university whose major claim to fame was that it had the second most diverse student body in the nation.

Since then he has ensured that the new UNLV medical school, funding for which was approved a few months after his arrival, was on track to welcome its first students and become the focal point of a planned 214-acre medical district in Las Vegas.

"Our medical school is launched and the first cohort began this past July, all of them on full-ride, four-year scholarships from the community," Jessup e-mailed in obvious pride.  

"We had 900 applicants for the 60 spots, and there are a few vets among them, many first-generation college grads, and even some first-generation high school grads within their families"

In fact, Jessup raised in San Francisco with both mother and father of Italian descent, was the first member of his family to graduate from college, which he told me as prompted him to "devote my life to service in higher ed because of the opportunities it has given me. And also to pay back my ancestors for the sacrifices they made in coming to America to make a better life possible."


Of the UNLV medical school's first class, Jessup said: "It's a very diverse class. We went after kids with direct Las Vegas or Nevada ties so as to increase the chance that they will stay here as doctors," which would be an important development for a state that has ranked 45thnationally in the number of doctors per 100,000 population.

I asked Jessup in one of the emails what long-term impact might the events on the night of October 1st have on the community and the university.

"I don't know that what happened will deter people from visiting this great city in the future," Jessup said. "But it does mean that we'll have to rethink security for the open-air music festivals like the one this past Sunday evening that have become so incredibly popular here in town. And we will."

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Possible Seattle bid for Amazon 2nd HQ stirs some thoughts

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UPDATE: (Bellevue is planning to submit a bid to earn the role of Amazon’s HQ2, setting the stage for the possibility that the separate but equal headquarters that Amazon said lies ahead could find executives merely going back and forth across Lake Washington rather than flying cross country. Bellevue councilmember Kevin Wallace requested that the city work on a formal proposal to attract Amazon. Other councilmembers agreed that Bellevue’s business environment, ongoing infrastructure improvements and skilled workforce, make it a viable contender. Staff will return with an update on the process in the coming weeks. Responses to Amazon’s RFP are due by Oct. 19.)

Amazon's announcement that it is planning a separate but equal second headquarters has drawn enough comment, and criticism from some expected sources, that it's difficult to find an aspect that hasn't been explored or discussed. But the decision that Seattle should go after that second-city prize provides a new opportunity for thought, and perhaps some amusement.

It's interesting, and maybe amusing, to take a close look at the idea from Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Council member and five-day mayor, that Seattle should seek to persuade Amazon to put the projected 50,000 employees that the electronic commerce and cloud computing giant says will work at HQ2 here in Seattle, along with HQ1.

"Quite candidly, if there are to be an additional 50,000 jobs, they should be for our residents," said Harrell, who briefly replaced Ed Murray after his resignation in the face of multiple child sex abuse claims. Harrell said he was directing staff to "examine the city's business retention strategy and make sure employees are considered."

First thought: does Seattle really want to solidify its growing image as "the biggest company town in America" with up to another 50,000 Amazon employees?
Second: does anyone in political leadership in Seattle recall that the city's role is as a "super-regional city" with the good of the region for which it is center meant to be a part of political considerations, not merely the good of the 600,000-plus who live within its boundaries?  

And for amusement, if Seattle actually produces a plan to be headquarters city 2, might anti-business council member Kshama Sawant be willing to be part of the group of elected officials that would present the plan personally to Bezos and his executive team, letting them know the city care about their needs? 

But her presence might remind the Amazon execs of what some have suggested as one of the reasons for the company's decision to look for a second headquarters city, just in case -- the anti-business attitude of Sawant and he followers in city government. 

If the city has a business-retention strategy, to which Harrell alluded, that would likely come as a surprise to some members of the city council as well as to Murray and his predecessor, Mike McGinn, who was heard to remark to an aide at a business breakfast early in his only term "these are not my people."

It's not known what fate awaits Harrell's executive order directing Seattle's economic development officials to respond to Amazon's request for proposals to be the site for what the company says will be a headquarters that cost $5 billion to build and operate and is expected to generate as many as 50,000 jobs.  

Soon after issuing that order, Harrell stepped aside and turned the job of mayor over to Councilman Tim Burgess, who will serve until Jenny Durkan or Cary Moon is elected in November.

Amazon's stated goal of uncovering a place for a second headquarters, and as many as 100 cities and regions around the country have indicated they will be submitting bids, is expected to inject a surge of money and population into whatever region is ultimately selected.  

The company said it has added $38 billion to Seattle's economy between 2010 and 2016 and boasts approximately 40,000 staffers in more than 8 million square feet of office space.  

With respect to the "one-company town" idea, that's a designation offered recently by one real estate expert who noted that Amazon's footprint in Seattle is estimated at 19 percent of Seattle's downtown prime office space, more than twice as large as any other company in any other big U.S. city.

Of course, Seattle has long been viewed as a one-company town, first with Boeing, whose actual physical presence was dispersed across the Puget Sound area and beyond, then Microsoft, which was actually located in Redmond.

Wouldn't it be an interesting idea if officials of the city that is supposed to understand that it is a "regional city" decided not to try to win the second-headquarters for itself but rather sell Amazon on the concept of keeping that second headquarters within the region, outside of Seattle? 

Thinking only of its residents seems to have become the sole consideration of a city elected leadership whose predecessors seemed to understand that as a super-regional city, the basis of Seattle's economy and political considerations isn't just its 650,000 residents, but the 8 million to 10 million people of the region.

Tacoma hopes to be among the cities that seek to attract Amazon to consider them, and indeed Pierce County has a lot going on that doesn't get much attention from the Seattle area. So far in 2017, the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County has conducted 21 site searches for companies looking to relocate to or expand in Tacoma or Pierce County.  

And with respect to Bellevue, which hasn't indicated an intent to bid on any second headquarters, Amazon is already slated to occupy all 345,000 square feet of the new downtown Bellevue Center 425 Schnitzer West office tower when it is completed.    

I asked Bellevue Developer Kemper Freeman Jr. if he'd be interested in attracting Amazon.  

"Love to," he replied, "but we don't have any space right now," referring to the fact his new 400 Lincoln Square Office Tower and its 700,000 square feet of space is now basically all leased.

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Moscow entrepreneur-investor sees Seattle as ideal to find startups

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Natalia Blokhina, who helps guide a Moscow-based fund management company, has learned early in her career as an international investor that business relations almost always overcome politics.

Blokhina smiles as she responds to a question: No, she's never had an entrepreneur in whose start-up business she was offering to invest tell her "we don't want investment from Russia."

Natalia BlokhinaNatalia Blokhina"The more absurd political discussions get, the less business people pay attention to them," observes Blokhina, executive director of one of several fund management companies in the Russian capital.  


The Moscow native found from her 12 years working with British and U.S. companies and in the emerging markets of the BRICS countries in China, India, and Africa that she was "fascinated with all the entrepreneurial opportunities."

So Blokhina, 37, as a millennial entrepreneur with a degree from the TRIUM Global Executive MBA program in her impressive resume, returned home to Moscow in 2015 at a time of financial challenge for Russia "because I wanted to make a difference for my country."

And, she added, you have to "try to listen to what you would love to do."

So, as she told me, she transitioned "from someone who always thought of themselves as a corporate person who works inside the system to one who, having met successful entrepreneurs inside the business schools, thought they wanted to be one of them."

I had not been aware of TRIUM Global Executive MBA program until our conversation.  

The program is an alliance among NYU Stern School of Business, London School of Economics and Political Science, and HEC School of Management in Paris. Those accepted into the program take classes at all three institutions getting, an executive MBA and when finished, they have a global MBA from TRIUM, ranked third in the world in the 2016 Financial Times EMBA rankings and first in the 2014 rankings.  

She got her degree, jointly awarded by the three schools, in 2015 as one of the youngest of the graduates of the program. Now she pursues investment opportunities for her boutique fund management company, one of several in Moscow formed by high-net-worth individuals, bringing with her the contacts with an alum group that is global by definition rather than by chance.

Because of her NYU-alum contacts, she has invested in New York, but she said she has developed a keen interest in investment opportunities in the Pacific Northwest, having found "it is easier to do business with a smaller, more connected community that the Seattle area represents than with Silicon Valley. I didn't expect to find such a vibrant tech community here."

That perception on her part may already be creating a benefit for Seattle among young prospective entrepreneurs and investors in Europe.

"A few companies in Europe that asked me about how they should go about getting into business in the U.S. and said they were thinking about expanding to New York or Silicon Valley, and I told them to look to Seattle," she said.

But she cautions that the search for start-up investment opportunities has potential pitfalls, saying "you need to be able to diagnose the entrepreneur. Do they have what it takes? Are they self-critical enough? Do they want the company to transcend themselves?"

"I work with those for whom the answer is 'yes' to each of those questions," she said. "Work with" includes meeting with the portfolio companies usually monthly and serving on their boards.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Blokhina is a fan of women entrepreneurs, offering "women can be good founders of companies because they are practical and realize needs better and more quickly than men."

"Women have more time to look around and dream," she added. "They want to change things in ways that make things more usable and beautiful."

"But they need to work with men," she added.

Blokhina disclosed that New York alumna of the TRIUM program, with support from the TRIUM Global EMBA, are launching a new competition program for women-guided startups.

"We will engage female leaders from our global network to mentor the startups to prepare for the competition, with our goal being to have the first competition in 2018," she said, explaining that the competition will involve judges choosing the startup that will be awarded a large investment.

The panel of judges will include TRIUM alums, faculty members, and other angels, she said.

They have already begun an effort to attract angel associations and incubators to have roles as funders or sponsors of the competition.


"They seem to appreciate the idea of global diversity of the mentors and women-to-women collaboration," Blokhina said. "And the initiative creates a platform for the angel investors."

As the award and competition to win it take hold, it's quite possible that its international aspect and focus on women entrepreneurs could lead to it acquiring growing prestige among both entrepreneurs and angel investors.

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Bryan Hoddle's coaching links to disabled athletes, wounded veterans draw praise

The career of Bryan Hoddle, one of the nation's most recognized and honored track and field coaches whose attention to developing young athletes and counseling coaches came to include aiding disabled athletes and now wounded veterans, provides evidence that the chain of fortune forged by fate is sometimes composed of remarkable links.
bryan pixThis Harp is about those links that Hoddle has forged during his 34-year career as a track and field coach in Olympia, a career that over the past two-plus decades has included a national focus on disabled and wounded athletes. I learned of Hoddle and his work as we met and developed a link while he was Bellevue in July working with area athletes who queue up to spend 30 minutes or so with him each summer to get tips on running, training and life disciplines.
And it's with his focus on wounded veterans that he is off this weekend for what has become one of his most important contributions, an annual week-long involvement with a select "team" guiding programs at Eagle Summit Ranch in Colorado for those "suffering from the visible and the invisible wounds of war."  
There he is part of a unique team working with the veterans in sessions at Eagle Summit, one of two such ranches founded by Dave Roever, himself a dramatically wounded Vietnam veteran, and his wife, Brenda, through their Roever Foundation, to work with wounded veterans.
More on Roever (pronounced Ree'ver), the foundation he and his wife created, and his unique ranches for programs for wounded veterans later in this Harp, but first the rest of the Hoddle story.
Hoddle has received a scrapbook-full of accolades for his accomplishments as a coach and an advisor to coaches, a career that over the past two-plus decades has come to include an emphasis on assisting disabled athletes and, since 2005, aiding seriously injured veterans, including those who have lost limbs.
Among his many honors, Hoddle was chosen head coach of the 2004 U.S. track and field team in the Athens Paralympics, was a 2013 Runners World Magazine Hero of the Year in Running and a U.S.A. Track and Field Presidents Award winner. In 2014 he was honored by the Washington State House of Representative for his work with disabled athletes and wounded soldiers.
But the accolades all pale for Hoddle when compared with the expressions of gratitude through emails or telephone or personal contact from the athletes, particularly the wounded veterans, who he says inspire him every day.  
"Each day I email or text several veterans letting them know I still care and encouraging them, and many veterans have inspired me by something they have said in response." Hoddle emailed me.
Before his focus on wounded warriors, Hoddle had suddenly burst on the scene for work with disabled athletes. That resulted from a series of links that came about by accident, or maybe fate, when in 1994 his wife, Sherri, saw a television program on Tony Volpentest, the young disabled sprinter who had won three gold medals in the 1992 paralympics in Barcelona.
Volpentest, born without hands or feet, took some time off after the '92 paralympics and before he could compete again he faced the problem that officials had decided his prosthetic leg was too long and provided an unfair advantage and would have to be shortened.
By that point Hoddle recalls that he had reached out to Volpentest, who lived north of Seattle, "so we met and formed a friendship."
"When he decided to train for the 1996 paralympics, he called me and we talked about how it could work for me to coach him and help get a new, shorter prosthetic leg," said Hoddle, noting that "Ross Perot had taken Tony as a cause and agreed to provide for all his expenses. When Tony talked to Perot about me coaching him, Perot gave the thumbs up to pay me to be Tony's coach and we started training in the fall of 1995. Perot was wonderful to me and my family."
At the '96 paralympics in Athens, under Hoddle's coaching, Volpentest bested his 1992 record 100 meters time by half a second and shaved two seconds off his 200 meter record time, winning the Gold medal in both.  
ABC did a special feature on Volpentest as he stayed after his victories and, as Hoddle had instructed him, signed every autograph of those who wanted one, many of them disabled youngsters. The signings went on for more than 90 minutes.
The Volpentest experience led Hoddle to work with athletes with disabilities, including Marion Shirley, an amputee Hoddle convinced to try sprinting who then went on to win the 100 meters in the 2000 parlympics as well as the 2004 games for which Hoddle had been chosen to be the head coach of the U.S. team in the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.  
Just after returning from Athens, Hoddle got a call from an organization called Disabled Sports USA, asking him to come back to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to do a running clinic for injured soldiers.
 
He made three more trips to Walter Reed then began doing running clinics at Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, AL, which became a continuing commitment as Hoddle told me he made his 17th trip there last April.
 
"Lakeshore asked me in 2005 to come to one of their sporting camps, to which they invite veterans from all over the country, teaching a lot of them how to walk again and some, although they may have just gotten prosthetic legs, who want to run," Hoddle said.
 
He told me of working with one veteran who was one of the first soldiers wounded in the Iraq invasion, his leg blown off, adding "Two years after we began working together, he ran in the Houston marathon."
 
In discussing relationship building with the wounded veterans, Hoddle told me "relationships are about letting them know you care about them beyond just running. You've got to win someone's heart before you can win their mind over and help them.
 
Now on to the compelling link to Dave Roever and his far-flung wounded-veterans connections.
Roever recalled, in an email exchange with me after Hoddle gave us a virtual introduction, that it was "a casual conversation spurred by a mutual friend about our need for a good coach for the wounded athletes in Operation Warrior RECONnect and Bryan's passion for reconnecting the troops to a healthy and active life that made him a perfect fit." So Hoddle joined the team in 2015.
Eagle Summit Ranch is an amazing story in its own right, one appropriate for marking 9-11 since it was on that date in 2007 that it was dedicated into service, a story that Roever shared with me in our email exchange.
 
He told me that it was his dream to "provide a place where our beautiful, young heroes, who were wounded while serving so faithfully in the United States Military, have a place to be restored, encouraged and trained. Eagles Summit Ranch, Colorado, is just that place."
 
"The Roever Foundation was birthed from the unspeakable inner pain brought on by the negative reception of Vietnam vets coming home from war. As a vet I swore they would never again do that to our heroes returning from this Global War on Terror. One man can make a difference."
 
The "inner pain" may well have a personal aspect since in 1969, as a gunner in the elite Brown Water Black Berets in Vietnam, Roever was burned beyond recognition when a phosphorous grenade he was prepared to throw exploded in his hand. The ordeal left him hospitalized for more than a year and he underwent dozens of major surgeries.
 
He came back to become a speaker of national and international prominence who appears in a variety of settings from public schools, military installations, business groups and youth organizations, as well as television interviews and appearances.
 
Hoddle, who will travel to the Roever Texas ranch for additional veteran sessions in October, told me he's often asked about what he's learned from his involvements. His answer: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.  I think that's something we can apply to any profession or relationship."
 
There's a personally satisfying Hoddle link in that our mutual friend, "energy medicine specialist" Robert "Doctor Bob" Greczanik, who is one of Hoddle's closest friends, convinced him to give some advise on sprinting to a senior sprinter who was preparing to compete in the Hunstman World Senior Games in October in St. George, UT.
In fact, "Dr. Bob" is responsible for one additional link to both Hoddle and me, enlisting our involvement in the effort to attract support to Olympic decathlete Jeremy Taiwo, who is hoping after his 11th-place finish in Brazil to return to the Olympics on the U.S. track and field team for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
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Cellular icon Mikal Thomsen lives 'dream come true' as owner of Tacoma Rainiers

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When Triple A baseball returned to Tacoma in 1960 after a 55-year absence, one of the fans in attendance that opening day to watch the team then nicknamed the Giants was 3-year-old Mikal Thomsen, there with his father, seeing his first professional baseball game. 

That ignited a life-long affection of a kid, then a man, for his hometown baseball team.

Mikal ThomsenMikal ThomsenAnd thus, although he grew up to make his name and fortune over two decades as he became a leading figure in the cellular-mobile phone industry, Thomsen's "dream come true" is played out each year as CEO and, with his wife, Lynn, the major investor in the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League baseball. The Thomsens put together a team of investors prior to the 2011 season to join them in owning the team.

The home season ends next Thursday. The Rainiers are on the road for the Labor Day weekend wrap up, far out of first place in the PCL's Pacific Northern Division and far back in attendance, playing in the smallest market in the in the far-flung 16-team league and in one of the smallest ball parks.

But he says "we've been highly successful in every way I can imagine, for the city, for the fan base, and for the investors. We have made stadium improvements each year, on our dime, and the Rainiers have been embraced by the city and the whole South Sound community."

That's a conviction likely buttressed this year by the fact that Tacoma, for the first time ever, played host last month to the Triple-A All-Star game at Cheney Stadium, a game won, 6-4, by the PCL all-stars over the stars of the International League. The satisfaction was in not just having the game for the first time but to the fact, the selection of Tacoma was made by the other AAA owners.

And Thomsen disclosed during an interview a few days ago that after the 2016 season ended "the team offered to buy out any of the owners at twice the amount they had paid for their share in 2011, but no one took us up on it." The Rainiers made the playoffs last year and came within 1,000 fans of equaling the best attendance mark of Thomsen's tenure.

Thomsen's team of 15 investors includes his longtime business partner, John Stanton, the CEO and majority owner of the American League Seattle Mariners, for whom Tacoma is the Triple-A franchise and a major piece of the Mariners' baseball operations.

Stanton and Thomsen, both in their early 60s, have what is likely the most unusual business relationship in professional baseball, and maybe in all of pro sports.

Their desks are 20 feet apart in the offices of Trilogy Partnerships, the Bellevue-based venture fund where they share responsibility, as they have for much of the 35 years since they joined the fledgling McCaw Cellular and went on to become two of the icons of the wireless industry in which they made their fortunes.

I asked Thomsen if he's ever tempted to complain to Stanton over major-league, minor-league issues, as when the Mariners call up key Rainiers players to the majors when the Tacoma team is winning, as at the start of this season when the Rainiers were in first place before several top players headed for Seattle.

He laughed as he replied: "We are in the unique position of being an organization that sells tickets, popcorn and hotdogs but doesn't have to pay for performers," reminding me that the Mariners pay all the costs, including salaries, of the players they sign and assign to Tacoma.

"They want a strong Triple-A presence and we have provided that," Thomsen adds.

Thomsen and Stanton's office interactions are likely fewer these days with Thomsen spending about what he estimates as about 20 hours a week during the season in Tacoma while Stanton has the CEO's office at Safeco Field that he visits as often as possible.

Although Thomsen is the Tacoma boss he is quick to credit others for contributing to the team's success, particularly team president Aaron Artman, who was in place as president when they bought the team.

"Inheriting Aaron was a godsend," Thomsen said.  "He is a very creative guy with a wealth of knowledge running minor league baseball operations, and we paired him up with a great CFO, Brian Coombe whom we hired the first summer we owned the team. Together they are a phenomenal leadership team for the club."

I asked Thomsen, for a column I did several years ago if the fact Tacoma is closer to Seattle than any Triple A team's proximity to a major league city has an impact on attendance. He replied: "Most of the Rainiers fans are Mariners fans who enjoy keeping up with both teams and hearing about the players they saw in Tacoma now performing with the major league club. I think the nearness of the M's cuts both ways."

Indeed Thomsen's ownership group, which includes Brad Cheney, president of the Ben B. Cheney Foundation (named for the lumber magnate and community leader for whom the ballpark is also named) has created a community's love affair with its professional baseball team, not unlike the relationship that used to exist in cities across America.

The Rainiers have added a new left field deck, whiffle ball field and playground, which Thomsen says "is now a fixture, and drawing tons of kids," noting the idea was Cheney's who he says "is on the board, is very supportive of the team and the area through his foundation."

Cheney threw out the first pitch at the All-Star game after Thomsen went on the loudspeaker to tell the fans about coming to the park for games since he and his brother were kids, then said "This is for Tacoma. And this is for the South Sound."

The Stanton-Thomsen baseball-ownership ties extend beyond the Rainiers. In fact, the announcement of the Rainiers' purchase followed their successful launch a year earlier of a college-player amateur league team in Walla Walla.

It was Stanton, a Whitman grad and past chairman of the school's board of trustees, who convinced Thomsen that he should become part of the ownership team that was buying and bringing to Walla Walla an expansion team in the West Coast League, a summer league for college players, competing just below professional ball.

So it was appropriate that Thomsen approached Stanton to be part of the Tacoma ownership team.

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

Thomsen met his wife, Lynn, and Stanton met his wife, Terry Gillespie, at McCaw Cellular in the mid-80s, which they joined at about the same time in the early '80 and are now on the team of co-owners of the Rainiers, though the oversight of the franchise, including attending many games, falls to Thomsen.

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Fate dealing losing hand to Seattle income tax advocates

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Fate seems to be dealing a losing hand to proponents of a state income tax, given events that have unfolded behind the scenes with the lawsuits filed since the Seattle City Council enacted a tax on higher-income residents as a strategy to reach the State Supreme Court with the issue.

Their best hope now to achieve their goal is to be dealt a joker wild card by those on the other side who have sued to overturn the tax on the statutory grounds that the city violated the 1984 state law that specifically prohibits cities and counties from imposing a net income tax. 

The wild card could be handed to tax advocates because some of those suing the city seem tempted to turn it into a political issue that could be the key to unintentionally attracting the state's highest court.

From the outset of a campaign flatly touted by council members and their cheering supporters as an effort to "tax the rich," the goal of tax advocates has been to get the State Supreme Court to review the 84-year-old decision that a net income tax violates the state constitution.

Whether that campaign can move ahead may well be decided on November 27, the date set yesterday by King County Superior Court Judge John R. Ruhl for him to hear the motions by attorneys representing plaintiffs in three lawsuits filed against the city.

Matched by those whose rhetoric is "we need to tax the greedy rich" is the equally heated commentary of those who oppose any tax and particularly taxes on the wealthy, who feel they are already overtaxed. The anger of the latter was evident in the comment made in private by one of the attorneys that their purpose is to "kill the income tax and drive a stake through its heart so it never comes back alive."

As Matt Davis, attorney for Seattle investment advisor Michael Kunath observed: "What was supposed to be a purely legal exercise has devolved into the latest battlefield in the fight between two groups who have no hesitation about forcing their viewpoints on everyone else."

Kunath's suit was the first of the three and thus was the one assigned Judge Ruhl by lottery and it will be Davis' motion for a summary judgement against the city tax that will be heard on November 17 with the motions by attorneys for The Freedom Foundation and the Opportunity for All Coalition to also be heard then.

The first indication of the unanticipated challenges facing the city came when Kunath's suit, filed minutes after Mayor Ed Murray signed the tax into law following City Council passage, noted that the council fouled up in its maneuver to pass a tax that wouldn't be viewed as violating state law.

The council members passed what they intended to be a tax on gross income rather than net income, but they chose the amount on Line 22 on the federal tax form as the basis for each filer's taxable income and that line is described in various IRS documents as a "net" income tax line, which Davis highlighted in his suit.

The other suits included that point in their briefs against the Seattle City Council for its passage of a tax on individuals with income over $250,000 and joint-filing income of more than $500,000, They all indicate they want Judge Ruhl to merely rule that the city violated state law.

But the attorneys, including two retired State Supreme Court justices, have been told by Judge Ruhl that they must be prepared to argue the constitutionality as well as the statutory issue, although he said at the Wednesday meeting with attorneys that he intends to rule first on the statutory question. 

What that would mean is the issue of whether the income tax violates what's known as the "Uniformity Clause," a constitutional requirement that all property be taxed equally, wouldn't come up if he rules against the city.


Thus the only way the issue of the Uniformity Clause would become part of the case is if he were to find the city income tax was legal. 

Then attorneys for the three suits could use the Uniformity Clause as a backup issue and raise it for a discussion that would reach the high court.

The sense of those who want a state income tax is that a dramatically more liberal high court than the 1933 court that ruled that income was property and thus required to be taxed equally would throw out its own rules and reverse that decision, opting to throw out its own rules and eight decades of decisions by the high court supporting the 1933 decision.

The random selection of Ruhl to preside over the superior court deliberations on the case also has to be viewed as less than ideal for the city since he is considered by attorneys in this case as the best judge for them because his qualifications make it less likely he would be influenced by the political rhetoric surrounding this case. He is rated as "exceptionally well qualified" by various organizations, including the King County Bar Association.

Finally, Ruhl's decision to separate the statutory question of whether the city broke state law from the constitutional issue will make it more difficult for Seattle to get before the Supreme Court with the constitutional question.

 "Uniformity" in this case means the city's imposition of no tax on income under $250,000 and 2.25 percent for income above that.

The concern of those who fear that it's risky to turn this into a political issue rather than a statutory one are concerned about statements like that from Matt McIlwain of Madrona Venture Partners that "In defeating the city income tax, we can help maintain a system of opportunity and job creation for innovators and workers."

In addition, the complaint from the Opportunity for All Coalition of which McIlwain is a spokesman goes to great length in its suit to provide anecdotes of people being taxed on selling their homes or their businesses who are not wealthy but merely average Seattle citizens who will be injured by the tax.

Those are all political considerations.

Davis' motion makes clear at the outset that he and Kunath don't view this as a political issue but a simple statutory question. The other suits appear tempted to want to make political statements with their suits.

A long line of decisions in the decades since that 1933 decision that income is property and thus a tax on it must thus meet the constitutional requirement that property has to be taxed equally have cited that decision to reverse ideas like calling an income tax an excise tax or imposing an income tax on real estate transactions. 

And confronting those who hope the court will merely overturn that decision is the rule known as Constitutional avoidance, which says the court must make every effort to avoid interpreting the Constitution if it can deal with the statutes. But in the end, the high court can do whatever it wants.

The concern of those who don't want to tempt a Supreme Court likely to be sensitive to the views of those who want to repair an admittedly regressive tax structure with an income tax know the court will be searching for any argument that opens the door to consider the merits and wisdom of the tax.

Anyone who argues that the tax is unfair, unneeded or unreasonable is handing the Supreme Court exactly what it needs. And should the Supreme Court take up the issue and decide in favor of income-tax advocates, it's a good bet that soon thereafter, a legislature that now needs only a simple majority and no voter support because of Supreme Court action to throw out a decades-old precedent, will enact such a tax.

And history will honor or revile, depending on which segment of the population we are looking at, the organization or individual who made that come about.
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Fans of Jeremy Taiwo, Seattle Olympic decathlete, seek Tokyo games assist

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From the time Jeremy Taiwo was four years old, he knew he had to be an Olympian. After all, his father, Joseph Taiwo, a Nigerian who was recruited to Washington State University's track & field team, competed in both the 1884 and 1988 Olympics for his home country.

"Once I learned he had been in the Olympics and what that meant, I had to be the best and work the hardest," said Taiwo, a Seattleite who made the U.S. Olympic team last summer as the nation's second best decathlete and finished 11th at the Brazil games last year.

Jeremy TaiwoJeremy TaiwoBut I have to make the next Olympics since he was there twice," Taiwo said of his father, who is now track and field coach at Newport High School, which Jeremy attended before competing for the University of Washington.

"My dad was ninth in his event but I was 11th in Brazil so I felt I still have something to prove."

Both Taiwo, 27, and his coaches say they are convinced he has another Olympics in him, with two who provide some of his key training support disagreeing over whether he could be third in the next Olympics, or Gold.

Although he's currently recovering from an adductor-muscle strain, when he returns to training he will be keeping his eye on the progress of the runners who present what Taiwo describes as "a fair amount of competition from different countries" for the decathlon event at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The competition includes Brazil Olympics Silver Medalist Kevin Meyer from France and Bronze medal winner Damian Warner from Canada, plus a pair of German athletes he describes as "incredibly talented," plus a couple of Americans.

"Since the dominant world record holder (Ashton Eaton) has retired, it will be interesting to see who is able to claim the title at the next Olympics," Taiwo said.

But there is one area in which Taiwo lags dramatically behind his competitors, particularly the Canadian and the Europeans. That's the financial support that athletes like the decathlon competitors receive, and need, because of the training intensity and costs necessary in preparation for 10 events.

"They are getting an incredible amount of support," Taiwo said.. "I'm sure they all own their own houses at this point." That's a level of support he could only dream of.

"There's not a lot of love or appreciation for our event in this country anymore, it seems," Taiwo said of the competition whose Gold Medal winner was once automatically proclaimed "The World's Greatest Athlete."

The men's decathlon consists of the100-meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meters, 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and a closing, 1500-meter race.

Each of those events in the two-day competition requires different skills -- speed, endurance, throwing, vaulting and jumping and thus decathletes are some of the most versatile athletes in the world.

Although he had won the Pac-12 Decathlon competition as a senior at the University of Washington, he wasn't that well known until he placed second at the Eugene Track and Field qualifying last July, scoring 8425 points for the Silver Medal, 325 points behind Eaton.

Taiwo recalled in an interview that going into the 1500 final event in Eugene, he was in fourth place and needed to beat the third-place athlete by 13 seconds. But he vaulted all the way to second and the Silver with his time of four minute-17 seconds.

"In a business sense, where people want to do the least amount of work and make the most money, that translates to athletes doing the most and paying them as little as possible," said Taiwo with a logical edge of frustration.

It bothers Taiwo that decathletes aren't paid like world-class athletes since the top Olympic athletes in swimming, gymnastics and track and field can make six-figure deals with endorsements, others, like Taiwo, hardly receive enough money to make ends meet.

Taiwo's mom, Irene, knew her son couldn't continue to wear himself out between training and work heading toward the 2016 Olympics, so in December of 2015 she suggested he start a GoFundMe account. GoFundMe is a fundraising website to support causes, where donations are welcome worldwide and where more than 100 Olympic hopefuls have created accounts.

Taiwo and his family used Facebook to advertise the donation page, asking co-workers, family, and friends for help. Taiwo said people he had never met were donating hundreds of dollars to his cause. Taiwo's initial GoFundMe goal was $15,000, and by the end of January, to his surprise, he had surpassed his goal, eventually raising more than $40,000 and got an additional $10,000 for so significantly passing his goal.

But he isn't interested in holding his hand out for donations henceforth. So he is hoping that the sponsor dollars that come out of the woodwork for some athletes might start coming his way in the coming months as a Seattleite who is considered a strong candidate for a medal, maybe gold, in Tokyo.

So right now he's doing without the strength and conditioning coaches who would cost about $500 a month as well as the physical therapy sessions that included massage and strength training on which he last year spent $100 to $150 per week.

A handful of Seattle and Bellevue business people have made up their minds to campaign among friends, associates, clients to support Taiwo.

One of the prominent coaches offering him training guidance, Bryan Hoddle, who now lives in Phoenix said of Taiwo: "He's a tremendous athlete, but he's an even better person." Hoddle, one of the nation's top sprint coaches who now spends his time teaching veterans who have lost limbs how to run again, provides some training counsel for Taiwo from afar but that can't substitute for coaches and trainers here.

Taiwo is the kind of young man who, despite his competitive focus, spends a considerable amount of time giving motivational talks at school, observing "it's awesome talking to kids because they are so interested."

And Taiwo, who attended Newport High School although he lived in Renton because he wanted Spanish immersion classes and wound up with a 3.5 GPA, plus weighting, emphasizes to the kids the importance of education.

Although the Tokyo Olympics is three years hence, Taiwo has benchmarks before then to measure his progress. Thus his short-term focus is on the USA Indoor National Championships in New Mexico in February, Indoor World Championships in March in Birmingham, England, and the Outdoor National Championships in June.

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