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Purging ancient emails: Stirs memories and brings back the past to revisit

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Using my emails as vehicles to visit the past has, for a couple of reasons, become part of my mental activity as COVID eases. First, because when I run across someone who opens my Flynn’s Harp column whom I haven’t been in contact with for some months, I find myself now feeling the need to reach out to them to see that they are ok. I’m sure that’s an urge that many living with the shuttering brought by the virus share with me.

The second source of email memories is via a manner that’s admittedly pretty unusual, but I recommend it to any who, like me, haven’t cleaned out the email backlog for years. Make that more than a decade. One day when the backlog passed 110,000, stretching back over 11 years, Google basically said “clean them out or you won’t get any more.”

Since the cleaning began with the oldest emails forward, I have been enjoying visiting a “living” past that first put me back to 2009. The visiting of more than a decade via emails that seem current when you open them anew has been an amusing, intriguing, and fun (or sad) experience, And so too sharing them with those who were either senders or recipients back then. So I decided to share some I saved in this week’s Harp. With apologies for the length.

My first stop on the ancient emails purge was 2009, wiping out a few hundred. Then I encountered an email exchange among some who had seen a column I did that year on the fact it was the 50th anniversary of the Chad Mitchell Trio’s heading off from Spokane and Gonzaga University to seek their fortune in New York.

The column was recalling an interview I had done in 2005 with Chad and wound up with the suggestion the trio deserved to have an event in Spokane to honor their 50th.

Several readers of the column happened to be, at that time, members of the Gonzaga Board of Regents and so I was able to look in as they shared copy-all emails, including me, discussing the idea of a Chad Mitchell anniversary event.

Since Don Nelles, a current neighbor of mine who was board chair of the regents at the time was leading the email discussion and included me, I sent him the collection several months ago as ancient history revisited, to his amusement. A 50th was never held. Chad and Mike Kobluk live in Spokane Joe Frazier, who had become an Episcopal priest, died in his sleep on March 28, 2014, at the age of 77.

Another e-mail train related to several 2010 emails exchanges with Liz Marchi, the Montana angel investor who was just becoming a friend that year and about whom I’ve done maybe half a dozen columns since.

My first column on her about that time focused on the fact that, as the overseer at that point of a Montana Angel Network, she hoped to create awareness on the part of promising entrepreneurs seeking capital that “angels are gathering in increasing numbers under the Big Sky.” Indeed that has since become the case.

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

Today she is business development vice president for an intriguing venture fund in White Fish, MT, called Two Bear Capital.

Then a train etched with sadness popped up, relating to what was a soon-to-be gathering of Vietnam reporters in 2011 for a lunch at a Thai restaurant in Little Saigon in Orange County, where they planned to gather to recall and reflect. It was sad because two friends who were frontline reporters for United Press International and were at the luncheon, Tracy Wood and Ray Herndon, had quotes in the column. Both have died of cancer in the past two years.

Bob Page, who was my old boss at UPI and is now a friend as a publisher in San Diego, was UPI’s boss in Asia during Vietnam and knew all the reporters and was at the 2011 luncheon. He recalled for me in advance of the gathering: “I'll be there. I'll sit with Maggie Kilgore and Tracy Wood. That's the main reason to go, to see those two tougher-than-nails gals. They were fearless as were Kate Webb and Sylvana Foa. Four of the best. You could match them up with any four guys anywhere (referring to four of the women whom UPI sent to the war zone without hesitation because of their talent while many news organizations hesitated to send women).”

Then I ran across and saved from the delete key, a column, and numerous replies, reflecting 50 years later on the hanging I covered at the state penitentiary in June of 1963, the execution of Joseph Chester Self for the murder of a cab driver in a $12 robbery. I was 23 so it had an impact when Self, wearing a straight jacket and noose, was brought into the chamber by the warden and positioned to stand on the steel trap door, which was sprung open and he fell to his death before our eyes,

At the time of Self's execution, the state didn't have a gallows in the Old West style, but rather a large room at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, a "death chamber" as it was referred to, a short walk from Death Row where those sentenced to die awaited the outcome of their appeals process. Some 30 years after Self’s hanging, a legislature made fatal injection an option for the condemned prisoners.
Only men were executed in Washington and, interesting in light of the State Supreme Court’s statement in a 2018 decision outlawing the death penalty that the death penalty’s imposition in this states was "racially disproportionate," of the 14 who went to their deaths on the gallows between 1947 and 1993, 13 were Caucasian, including Self, and one was Hispanic.

Washington's governors long routinely passed on the opportunities to interfere with the death penalty being carried out until current governor Jay Inslee imposed a moratorium on the death penalty and has now announced he would veto any effort to restore it.

I decided that column deserved to be preserved, partly because a high school student who was one of a group working on a paper on hanging reached out to learn more about my experience. But also because of an email, it was prompted by my boss of the Spokane UPI bureau at the time, Roberta Ulrich.
 
“I still owe you thanks for volunteering to take on that task and letting me hide my cowardice,” she wrote. “I always said I could do any assignment any man could do but I admit I really didn't want to cover a hanging. As bureau manager it was my job and, at any rate, I couldn't have assigned you so your volunteering saved face for me - to say nothing of my qualms. You did a fine job.”

With the avalanche of crises cascading down on those involved in legislating, arguing, and lobbying in the Nation's Capital, a column I ran across on what was then an annual event for Montanans laboring in D.C. was a must save. And must share. Only those with roots in Montana could come up with a party like the annual "Testy Fest."
 
The gathering came into existence in 2004 as the more tastefully titled "DC Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival," but by the time I did the column in 2011, it was known and promoted simply as "the Testicle Festival."
 
Between 400 and 500 "cowboys and cowgirls," including Capitol Hill staff members who hailed from Montana, transplants from the Big Sky State, and people who just wanted to be seen with Montanans regularly attended the event.
 
The attraction that lured attendees wasn’t just the Montana camaraderie but also the featured fare, a western delicacy that is also known as "Prairie Oysters" or "Calf Fries."

Can you imagine the bridging of the current political divide that might occur if lawmakers from both parties got an invitation jointly signed by Chuck Shumer and Mitch McConnell to "come join us for a beer and a ball."

Two columns and emails I decided were to be saved because they tied the columns of the past to current relevance, as with Liz Marchi.

Thus the column on Mikal Thomsen's "dream come true" when in 2011 the prominent cellular executive and his wife, Lynn, purchased the Tacoma Rainiers.

The other is a 2010 piece marking the 25th anniversary of the ownership of the Spokane Indians baseball team by the Brett Brothers.

Northwest minor-league sports continues to be synonymous with Brett Sports, which has owned and operated the Spokane Indians baseball club for 36 years since Bobby Brett and his three brothers bought the Indians in 1985. They added the Spokane Chiefs hockey team in 1990.

There was a touching aspect to Thomsen's story. It's that 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.
Although he grew up to make his name and fortune over two decades as he became a leading figure in the cellular industry, Thomsen's "dream come true" is played out each year as CEO of the Rainiers.

Then there was the 2010 column that when I ran across it and the email exchange that followed had to be saved as one of my first love affairs…a man and his car.

So the column read: “As summer gives way to autumn, longings for the long-ago can creep into the days for the sentimental among us and so it is that I sometimes find myself revisiting the days of youth when, somewhere between girlfriends, I fell in love with a '55 Thunderbird. She was white with a turquoise interior and had both a soft and a hardtop."

As I wrote then: "I thought about her recently because it's a special anniversary of sorts: 55 years since the Ford Motor Co. debuted in 1955 what its marketing folks described as a 'Boulevard Sportscar.'"

The original T-bird was already a classic by the mid-'60s when I saw one on a car lot in north Spokane, swung in to try it, and drove out 30 minutes later, sitting proudly behind the wheel -- one flashy car richer and $1,200 poorer.

Of course that $1,200 has grown by as much as 30 times for those T-Birds who've kept their shape and sharp looks and are still nurtured and occasionally driven by those whose love affair with the car remains, making it one of the best investments ever for anyone who held onto one.

The T-Bird was more sophisticated and urbane in its concept than Chevrolet's muscular Corvette, which debuted at the same time and shared the stage with the T-bird as the first two-seat American rivals of the European sports cars.

There was something about the jump and roar of the White Lady, half of whose length was hood and the high-horsepower engine that churned beneath it, that stirred the blood.
 
The car lured Betsy, a co-ed I'd met in math class, and I taught her how to drive a stick shift as she sat behind the wheel of the T-Bird. To this day I'm not certain, 55 years of marriage later, if she didn't fall in love with the car and thus, of necessity, fell for the owner.
 
But then in 2002, the automaker undertook the tallest of orders, seeking to reinterpret an icon, reintroducing the two-seated Thunderbird. It couldn't be too much of a copy of what had gone before, but it couldn't depart too much from the inspiration.

But for me, growing older had brought the slow realization that the longing that stirred occasionally wasn't just about a car, it was also about a time.

I could own a re-creation of a car, but I couldn't drive it back in time. My wife and family understood that long before I did.

And among emails from friends for whom their memories included a T-Bird was a priceless one from Joe Galloway, the famous Vietnam correspondent who has been the topic of numerous Harps.
 
“Ah, Mike. I somehow knew we were blood brothers. My second car in this life was, yep, a 1955 white Thunderbird with soft and hardtops. I was just 19, working my first newspaper job at the Victoria, TX, Advocate. my first car, a 52 Chevy convertible, red, had about crapped out. My dad co-signed and the Humble Oil Credit Union choked up the money.
 
“Not long after that, I was hired by UPI for the Kansas City bureau and I loaded the T-Bird up with all my earthly possessions in the trunk and passenger seat and headed north. it was Jan. 1961 and the No. 1 song blaring on the radio was Wilburt Harrison's “Goin' To Kansas City!” I howled right along with him.”
 
“Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end......”
 
And on that memorable note ends the recollection of a string of memories embedded in all the thousands of deleted emails.
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Reflecting on AT&T breakup, the innovative success that followed

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As Congress begins to finally consider action against the nation’s tech giants to control tactics being increasingly viewed as monopolistic and anti-competitive, those deliberations will prompt suggestions of breakup and that may prompt some to recall the mother of all breakups. That was the antitrust lawsuit against AT&T and the Jan. 1, 1984, divestiture of the telecom giant that was then the world’s largest corporation.

unnamed 11It may be instructive to remember what followed after AT&T was forced under a court order to give up its 22 local Bell companies, establishing seven Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) that became the key contacts with telephone customers.

The real sources of innovation that followed that end of monopoly communications came from new technologies, new firms, new platforms, and new business models from outside and inside the telecom world.

It’s likely a good bet that breaking the tech giants into pieces, particularly Google and Facebook, would allow innovators to emerge from among the pieces to create new products and new technologies, precisely what followed AT&T’s breakup.

 
Meanwhile, back then, cable TV was a flourishing young industry, full of small-town entrepreneurs and a few visionaries who were just beginning to think about scaling the business. Among those were the four McCaw brothers, sons of J. Elroy McCaw, a major figure in the broadcast industry who owned radio stations nationally and Ch. 13 television locally.
 
In 1966 Elroy McCaw sold his cable system in Centralia to his sons, including 16-year-old Craig. When the senior McCaw died of a stroke three years later, dozens of claims and lawsuits from creditors consumed the fortune he had amassed and the McCaw estate filed bankruptcy. That left his sons with only the small cable system but over the next few years, they turned it from a company with 2,000 subscribers to one with $5 million in annual income.
 
The McCaw brothers founded McCaw Communications and, with Craig taking the lead, began to explore cellular service.
 
unnamed 2There are multiple ironies in the tale of the McCaw brothers and AT&T links to their company, whose success helped make the Puget Sound region the global mecca for a new cellular communications industry, to AT&T.

The first came when Craig ran across an AT&T memo in which the company predicted the number of U.S. cellular users would be 900,000 by 1995. Thus, in what one writer called “the worst guess about future values since the Red Sox traded pitcher Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees,” AT&T buried the cellular program.
 
That set Craig on a quest for licenses for the cellular spectrum and within two years McCaw Cellular had purchased licenses in six of the nation’s 30 largest markets.
 
Using those as collateral and taking out loans to buy more licenses, he eventually wound up with billions of dollars of spectrum, outpacing the growth of the “Baby Bells” in the emerging markets.  After purchasing MCI Communications’ mobile businesses in 1986 and LIN Broadcasting three years later, McCaw Communications partnered with AT&T as a technology provider and introduced their Cellular One service in 1990 to create the first truly national cellular system and a brand that attracted numerous other cellular companies.

That led to the final irony when, in 1994, the McCaw brothers sold McCaw Cellular to AT&T for $11.6 billion, making Craig McCaw one of AT&T’s largest shareholders. The company was soon renamed AT&T Wireless.
 
In its earliest days, McCaw Cellular attracted some of the brightest young minds in the region and they put their own stamps on the industry, further cementing the Puget Sound region as a wireless mecca.
 
Mikal ThomsenMikal ThomsenFirst was John Stanton who, at 28, was the company’s first employee and quickly became COO and vice-chairman. He was soon followed by 27-year-old Mikal Thomsen and by the late ‘80s, with Craig McCaw’s blessing, the two, along with Stanton’s wife, Terry Gillespie, McCaw Cellular’s senior vice president and controller, began acquiring rural wireless properties.
 
As the three thus began a business and personal friendship that has extended across the decades, including ownership of minor league baseball teams, to their current investment firm Trilogy Partners and its global arm, Trilogy International, their several rural-focused startups soon merged to form Western Wireless Corp., which went public in 1996.

Western Wireless spun off its VoiceStream Wireless in 1999 into a separate publicly-traded company and it was purchased by Deutsche Telekom in 2001. Deutsche Telekom renamed VoiceStream Wireless T-Mobile USA in 2002. Western Wireless merged with Alltel Corporation in August 2005.

The T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners of which Stanton is the majority owner and chairman, is a continuing testimony to the success of a group of young innovators who found an opportunity in the breakup of the world’s largest company.

So to those who would mouth dire predictions should Congress begin considering what should become of the nation’s tech giants, the counter should be “remember AT&T.”
 
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New Alaska Air CEO Ben Minicucci eyes the future with optimism

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As Alaska Air Group’s new CEO Ben Minicucci looks back on the emergence of the airline he now guides from the year of the pandemic that left uncertainty about the future of air travel, he says “we’re optimistic and well-positioned for the recovery and to seize opportunity.”

Minicucci, 54, assumed the CEO role less than two months ago with the retirement of Brad Tilden, who in his nine years as chairman and CEO built respect across the region and across his industry. Minicucci filled the key CEO in waiting role as Alaska president since 2016, the year Alaska acquired Virgin America at a cost of approximately $4 billion.

Ben MinicucciBen MinicucciOverseeing Virgin America’s operation under its own name and brand until it was fully incorporated into Alaska Airlines two years later fell to Minicucci, who served as Virgin CEO as well as Alaska Airlines president, overseeing the integration of Alaska and Virgin America’s operations, processes and workgroups.

Much of the opportunity he intends for Alaska to seize was put in place during the COVID year by Tilden, who remains as chairman, and Minicucci, foremost of those being Alaska joining 13 other airlines in a global alignment called One World, plus adding 42 new routes and extending Alaska service to a fourth country. But perhaps most importantly, Minicucci predicts Alaska will return to profitability by October.

Minicucci shared his thoughts on what Alaska has been through and how it is prepared for what lies ahead during a Microsoft Teams interview from his office at Alaska headquarters south of Sea-Tac International Airport.

He noted that leisure travel is returning before business travel, which normally is about 30 percent of Alaska business, with leisure having returned to pre-pandemic levels but business at only about 20 percent of the pre-COVID level. But he said “we expect business travel to ramp up to 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels by year-end.”

I suggested to Minicucci that while Alaska seems to have done a good job of coming back to prior levels as it relates to customer and financial performance, two key issues that could impact financial performance in the future have emerged for major companies to deal with.

First is the social issue of racial diversity driven by the Black Lives Matter unrest of the 2020 summer and the other is the political issue of demands from sectors of a divided nation for business allegiance, as in the flap over the Georgia election law.

In other words, I suggested that the racial divide and the political divide have added new and unanticipated challenges to the future direction of all major companies, and wondered how Alaska was preparing for them.

But it turns out that a focus on diversity is not new to Alaska, the company having been specifically focused on it for 15 years. Minicucci didn’t blow the companies horn about the partnership with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). I had to find it out after our interview. The story is that the partnership started 15 years ago, with Alaska’s initial support being for UNCF’s fundraising in the form of tickets and event sponsorships.

In 2017, UNCF became one of Alaska’s LIFT Miles partners, meaning guests could contribute airline miles alongside the company, “ensuring that travel does not hold young people back from pursuing their dreams” is the way Alaska’s explanation for the program puts it. “We are proud to partner with and support an organization whose mission is to build a robust and nationally-recognized pipeline of under-represented students who, because of UNCF support, become highly-qualified college graduates.”

“Throughout the pandemic we didn’t lose track of what’s important, leading with our values,” he said during our interview. “As we return to growth, it’s an opportunity to rebuild responsibility and embed those values even deeper in our culture, especially around our social and environmental commitments.”

“As a company, we know we are not yet where we need to be when it comes to racial diversity, but we are inspired and guided by our s to do the right thing,” Minicucci said.
Alaska has put in place a challenging set of goals relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion, starting with a commitment to ”increasing racial diversity of our leadership to reflect the racial diversity of our frontline workforce. Today, a third of our frontline and manager levels are racially diverse compared to 16 percent racial diversity within leadership.” Getting those into alignment is a five-year goal that Minicucci said will include determining compensation packages.

The company’s stated commitment is: “We believe that education is the great equalizer and a critical component on the path to equity. Now through 2025, we’ve set our sights on supporting community-based education and career development opportunities to reach at least 175,000 young people, with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Minicucci’s modest upbringing as the son of Italian immigrants who moved from their home country to Canada, where he was born, could have given him a personal understanding of education as the great equalizer. His mom had a fifth-grade education and his father had less so they pushed him toward education as the path to better things.

His “better things” leading up to his arrival at Alaska 17 years ago included getting his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada, after which he served in the Canadian armed forces for 14 years, then various roles with Air Canada.

With respect to the political divide, emerging now as the battle over voting laws that commenced first in Georgia and in which Alaska rival Delta Airlines found itself caught up, along with Coke and several other major companies in Atlanta, I asked Minicucci about how Alaska would respond if it finds itself squeezed in the divide. Delta and Coke called Georgia’s voting law unacceptable, which riled business groups.

“It’s a delicate proposition,” Minicucci said. “The way we have to think about these things is through the filter of our values, meaning through the eyes of stakeholders, including employees. It can’t be Ben’s personal opinion guiding those decisions.”

Finally, several recent additions to Alaska’s route structure are clearly focused on the growing importance of leisure travel, including the recently announced addition, beginning in the fall, of the tiny Caribbean nation of Belize, immediately south of Mexico.

Alaska will be disclosing tomorrow which cities will be serving Belize, the fourth country that Alaska will be serving from its West Coast hubs, and when tickets will go on sale.

With respect to new domestic routes, Alaska started non-stop service to Cincinnati last week as the 95th nonstop destination with non-stops to both Idaho Falls and Redding, Ca., starting June 17, bringing Alaska close to 100 nonstop destinations.

I was particularly intrigued by what the airline promotes as "the newest 'sun and fun' additions" to its route structure, non-stops connecting Los Angeles and San Diego with Kalispell, MT, and San Diego and San Francis with Bozeman. The new routes, which will operate through the summer, are the strongest connections yet for Alaska between Montana and California. Direct connections between Missoula, home of the state's major university, and Los Angeles and San Diego are already in place.

It’s clear the new connections are leisure-focused to Big Sky Country and the Flathead country of Glacier Park. But Bozeman and Kalispell have come to evolve as centers for entrepreneurs and angel investors, including a number from the California tech-investor centers.

And as another post-pandemic trend, remote work, continues to emerge, Alaska may find that enough remote workers are embracing Montana that what is clearly a leisure connection may develop a business role that the airline didn’t anticipate.
 
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Election laws rewriting draws ire of state's GOP secretaries of state

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The political melodrama being played out in Republican-held legislatures around the country of rewriting election laws, a process worrisome to election officials of both parties, is getting a hard pushback from two nationally respected retired Washington Republican secretaries of state as well as the current holder of that office, also a Republican.

And a Republican side-stage scene of a bizarre vote recount in Arizona is described by Kim Wyman, the three-term current Washington secretary of state, as “a process that should concern every American.”

As in their outspoken support for Georgia’s secretary of state as he was being personally pressured by President Donald Trump to twist that state’s election outcome to his favor, five-term secretary of state Ralph Munro and his three-term successor Sam Reed have nothing but criticism for the voting rewrite efforts.Kim WymanKim Wyman

“It’s ridiculous for elected officials in these states to be using this Democracy-threatening device to perpetuate the big lie,” said Munro, to which Reed said, “that’s exactly how I would say it.”

“These election-change efforts are starting down a pretty scary road for Democracy,” added Wyman, who was elected to her third four-year term last November.

The three, plus Bruce Chapman, Republican who was appointed secretary of state in 1975 by Gov. Dan Evans and was elected to a single term in 1976 then made an unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination for governor in 1980, are being honored in a virtual event on May 20 by the Mainstream Republicans of Washington. The four will share the virtual stage to discuss their collective roles in this state’s 57-year GOP hold on the office of secretary of state, Washington’s chief election officer.

That remarkable political success story in what has usually been, and increasingly so in recent years, a deep blue state began in 1964 with the election of young Seattle City Councilman A. Ludlow Kramer who joined Dan Evans, who was elected governor, in a remarkable year in which their success defeating Democratic incumbents went dramatically against the Democratic sweep across the nation, led by Lyndon Johnson’s overwhelming defeat of Barry Goldwater.

Jon Nehring, the 10-year mayor of Marysville and chair of the organization that names itself mainstream isn’t sure an organization of that name exists in other states, though he agreed with a chuckle that it’s quite likely Republicans in Alabama or Texas would describe themselves as mainstream. Pretty certain that would include all the GOP House members who ousted Liz Cheney from her leadership role Wednesday for her criticisms of Trump.

Reed said that while The Mainstream Republicans of Washington is a unique organization, most states have a loosely connected group of moderates/mainstreamers.

Incidentally, I advised the three that Republicans like them are going to have to come up with a different mantra than “big lie” about Trump and Republicans who contend without factual support that the election was stolen by President Joe Biden and the Democrats. That’s because Trump this week co-opted that “big lie” phrase to now refer to his view, and the view of his followers, that he actually won in November.

The Washington Post did an analysis of the GOP’s national push in states around the country to enact hundreds of new election restrictions. The Post said the effort “could strain every available method of voting for tens of millions of Americans, potentially amounting to the most sweeping contraction of ballot access in the United States since the end of Reconstruction, when Southern states curtailed the voting rights of formerly enslaved Black men”.

In data compiled as of Feb, 19, the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice found that in 43 states across the country, Republican lawmakers have proposed at least 250 laws that would limit mail, early in-person, and Election Day voting with such constraints as stricter ID requirements, limited hours or narrower eligibility to vote absentee.Ralph MunroRalph Munro

One of the numerous voter constraints being enacted or considered in many states where Republican legislatures hold sway is voters being required to carry some sort of approved personal i.d. to be permitted to vote.

Addressing that, Wyman said, “if states are going to crack down with a requirement for a voter i.d. then every eligible voter should have access to official i.d. for free.”

Wyman was particularly critical of the unusual election recount in Arizona, where the Republican-led State Senate ordered a recount of All 2.1 million votes cast in Maricopa County, a review being conducted not by elections officials but by independent contractors…a Florida firm that has no background with elections.

“If the 10,000 people who oversee local elections are to be replaced in oversight of the elections by state legislators, outcomes in the future will depend on which party is in power in a particular state,” said Wyman,

Wyman used the phrase “epitome of the opaque” to describe the Arizona recount, which she said is “a process that should concern every American.”

Munro, who I’ve known for 54 years and have never known him to go easy with something that deserves his criticism, said “rightwingers see voter fraud under every rock. In my 35 years of election involvement, I’ve seen voting mistakes occur but never of significant consequence.”

“To allow legislatures to directly oversee local election officials would be totally politicizing what is basically a very good process everywhere with people from both parties involved in watching the process and the counting,” he added.

When I wrote of Munro’s and Reed’s praise Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for the manner in which he resisted personal pressure from Trump to alter the presidential election outcome in his state, I noted their suggestion that he deserved some sort of national honor for his courage.

Now Raffensperger’s state is among the leaders of the move to basically rewrite voter eligibility provisions with what critics see as a way to reduce the minority vote in the future.

One of the reasons Munro and Reed give for the phenomenal string of terms the Republicans have held the state’s chief elections overseer is that all have guided the office almost as if it were a non-partisan office.

And each had roles that went well beyond election oversight in their service to the state, including the international trade role, in Munro’s case.

Meanwhile, as the Republican state senate order of a recount of 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County continues, one of the Republican senators who voted to approve the recount, under the control of a Florida firm hired to oversee it, is expressing regret at voting in favor of it.Sam ReedSam Reed

“I didn’t think it would be this ridiculous. It’s embarrassing to be a state senator at this point,” Paul Boyer said of a partisan recount.

More than 100 Republican former governors, members of Congress, cabinet officials, and others plan to release a “call for American renewal” statement of principles and vision for the party on Thursday, a day after House Republicans removed Liz Cheney from their leadership ranks for her opposition to Trump’s false claims about a stolen 2020 election that sparked an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The group says it is prepared to raise “tens of millions” of dollars to support candidates in competitive 2022 midterm elections that will decide control of Congress and are laying the groundwork for an alternative party if the GOP doesn’t change course.

But Reed had a firm response to the idea of an alternative party.

“Third parties are a pipe dream. A waste of time,” Reed said.

That means he sees changes that need to be made having to come from within the GOP.

(Virtual event May 29 at 7:00 pm. Register at www.mrwalliance.org/honoring-our-secretaries-of-state-virtual-event. Individual tickets are $25 each or purchase a ticket to the event and the VIP reception with Secretary Kim Wyman for $250.  NOTE: Information on how to log onto the Zoom event will be sent after registration. )

 
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'Do today' mantra (and cancer that spurred it) recalled a decade on

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(Editors note: It was a decade ago this month that successful colon-cancer surgery and the recovery process gave me a different outlook on life and the thoughts I had led to the following column, written in May of 2012, which I was reminded of as my mind replayed the details that are included herein 10 years on. I was particularly reminded of my successful bout with colon cancer as I saw WSU president Elson Floyd courageously fight his losing battle in 2015 while successfully waging a second battle to get the legislature to approve a medical school for WSU, the one that now bears his name. Remember the time references in the column all relate to a decade ago. )
  ------
 It was my new mantra of "do today what yesterday you might have put off until tomorrow" that guided my decision to compete in the 2011 Huntsman World Senior Games, just over four months after colon-cancer surgery.
 
The goal wasn't merely to prove that a 71-year-old guy can come back from major surgery and resume normal activity, even if the activity seems like a stretch to the sedentary of any age. It was also to acknowledge successful recovery from cancer while various friends are battling the Big-C, or have lost their battles.
 
There's a prescribed two-month "no strenuous exercise" recovery period following that kind of major surgery and it was while enduring that inaction that running in the Games 10 weeks after I could get back to heavy exercise the last week of July had become the most important thing I could imagine.
 
Just before the exercise-restraint period ended, I visited with my primary care physician at the Polyclinic, Patrizia Showell, whose insistence that I find out why I had iron deficiency anemia and her finger in my chest saying in a raised voice, in the face of my seeming lack of concern, “You are going to find out why!” guided me to the colonoscopy that set the stage for the pronouncement: “You have cancer.”
 
Interestingly, Showell was on hand as the three surgeons explained the finding and the process to follow. I later asked her “why were you there.” I wanted to see how you would react,” she replied. “Some people get really angry and others get very emotional and I wanted to know in case you needed some support later.” I was neither, merely listening with interest about the finding and the process ahead.
 
I was visiting with Showell to let the doc I frequently thereafter told “you saved my life,” that I was headed for the World Senior Games, thanks to her.
 
Putting on my workout shoes for the first time in two months brought an adrenalin rush but I knew I was going to have to be uncharacteristically cautious with my leg muscles, particularly the hamstrings that had always caused me trouble. The worst thing I could imagine at that point was that I would press too hard and pull or strain a hamstring and that would be the end of the goal.
 
The 2011 Huntsman World Senior Games had an added special appeal to me because it was the 25th anniversary of the two-week event created by Jon Huntsman Sr., in 1986. What could make the competitive comeback more special than it being for a special milestone for the games themselves? And an added special part of the memories is that I placed third in the 100 in my age group in those 25th-anniversary games.
 
Huntsman’s vision was that an event called the World Senior Games, even if held in a remote corner of Southwest Utah, would eventually draw thousands of what others might dismiss as "the elderly" for the chance to play and compete with their peers in an event with “world” in the name.
 
So it is that 25 years after their founding, the 2011 games attracted about 6,000 seniors who, over the two-week period, competed in everything from track and field to badminton, pickleball, lawn bowling, volleyball, square dancing, and even bridge. Some of the competitors were in their 90s.
 
I've been drawn to the games because of the "world" name since I first heard of them in 2003 and made up my mind to compete in the 100 and 200 meters in my age group once I learned that you didn't have to be a "world-class" athlete. That means some competitors really were world-class while others like me, who weren't, could still compete, and that's always been the magic draw.
 
Huntsman, 73, founded and was longtime CEO of what became the publicly traded (as of 2005) $9 billion world's largest chemicals company with 12,000 employees. He and his wife, Karen, still open each year's Senior Games, where the participants now number in the thousands each October.
 
Huntsman, the father of the former Utah governor, China ambassador, and briefly a Republican presidential hopeful, Jon Huntsman Jr., evidenced his ultimate commitment to the community following prostate cancer surgery 15 years ago.
 
He set out to establish a world-class cancer research and treatment center, a dream he's pleased to say is now realized with the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Hospital in Salt Lake City.
 
The Huntsman family continues to serve as principal benefactors and fundraisers for the Huntsman Cancer Institute with what he describes as "the ultimate goal" of eradicating the most challenging forms of cancer.
 
And it's on that final note about the Huntsmans' commitment to community and overcoming as great a challenge as cancer that I sense a common thread in their commitments and the commitments of those who travel to St. George each year to participate and compete.
 
The producer of a recent movie on the senior games said: "What drew us to the senior games was the positivity. These people have an unparalleled zeal for life. When you're 90 and 100 years old and have endured life's challenges and still have such a positive attitude, it's beyond impressive. We felt it was worth a film."
 
In a sense, the producer summed up in his way what's become my view: Life is a race to be appreciated for the joy of participation and whether world-class -- or a bit slower --making it to the finish line ahead of cancer, or any other physical or mental obstacle, is really the sweetest race to win.
 
So in recent days, a year-later clean bill of health on last year's cancer sets the stage for my few-days-hence prostate cancer surgery, as Jon Huntsman Sr. underwent those years ago. Then I can begin to tick off the "no strenuous exercise" weeks, which my surgeon tells me will be a shorter wait this time, before I can begin getting back into condition for the 2012 games.
 ------
(Post Note: Huntsman died in 2018 at the age of 80. I appreciated getting to meet him a couple of times at the Games, which I have competed in most years since 2011, taking second once but never winning, although being there is winning. Huntsman's philanthropy deserves to be remembered, particularly his telling comment about certain attitudes of the wealthy: “The people I particularly dislike are those who say I’m going to leave it in my will. What they are really saying is if I could live forever I’d never give any of it away.” Jon Huntsman Sr.)
  ---------------

 
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Two experienced women head Bellevue first-responder groups

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Two Eastside women with significant business backgrounds have recently assumed roles heading the non-profits that fund technology needs and community outreach programs of Bellevue’s first responders, both police and fire. This amid the challenge posed by the national movement to defund the police, a move that both view as not supported by the majority of citizens.

Villette Nolon, president and executive director of the Bellevue Police Foundation for only a few weeks, has made an intriguing transition into her new role having most recently served as the president and CEO of Imagine Housing, the Eastside’s leading affordable housing non-profit where she frequently worked with low-income families.

Villette NolonVillette NolonThat involvement helped her realize “the relationship between the community and the police is complicated but important.”

Nolon was long one of this area’s most prominent female angel investors, including chair and president of Seraph Capital Forum, the nation’s first all-women angel group, and a key executive with Angel Capital Association, the national association of angel investors.

Laura McCloud Mathers, President & CEO of the Bellevue Fire Department Foundation, was urged by Bellevue Fire Chief Jay Hagen to take the leadership of the foundation after she had been tapped as a consultant in December of 2019 to advise on how to create a foundation for the department.

Mathers, who had served as head of the Seattle Police Foundation for two and a half years while Kathleen O’Toole was chief, describes Hagen, who had spent 30 years with the Seattle Fire Department before being tapped to head the Bellevue fire department three years ago, as “an incredible leader, passionate in his commitment.”

Mathers’ background includes being the first membership director of the Columbia Tower Club, a key executive at the World Trade Center, and executive director of the Seattle Rotary Club.

“It is so sad that defunding the police foundations is a new racial justice target, putting pressure on companies to cut vital ties with nonprofit police foundations,” said McCloud. “Clearly they don’t understand the role of the foundation is primarily to ensure the police are well equipped with those things that will save lives and make the community safer for ALL!”

Nolon used as an example of the importance of the foundation’s work last month’s grant of $104,000 to police for what she described as “sorely needed new training and command system and a mobile wellness hub for officers, their families and retired officers to access health and wellness benefits the department offers.”

Mathers pointed to several examples of tools available to the Seattle police department as a result of community donations to the foundation, starting with AEDs for every patrol car, which she explained are “easy to use, low-maintenance defibrillators for people experiencing cardiac arrest while waiting for a medic unit to arrive.”
 
Another Mathers example:
Laura McCloud MathersLaura McCloud Mathers“Naloxone, a nasal spray that could be administered by officers to opioid overdose victims to bring back to life,” she explained. “SPD having Naloxone was initially a concern with the Seattle Fire Union - it was believed to be intruding on their scope of work. Fortunately, a meeting between Police Chief O’Toole and Fire Chief Scoggins put that to rest. “The union recognized the greater good for the community was for police to have it as they typically are at the scene before medics arrive – and seconds do matter between life and death.”

It might be suggested that those seeking to “defund the police” be made aware more forcefully of that point that police are usually at the scene of accidents or crises before the medics arrive and thus their services in such situations are vital, possibly even to the survival of victims.

The pushback against defunding the police may be getting underway, at least if the comment by New York mayoral candidate Eric Adams, a black former NYC police officer who see himself as the pro-public safety candidate who seems police as part of the solution. is any indication.

In an interview with New York Magazine published Tuesday, Adams said the "defund the police" movement is led not by people of color in the Big Apple, but rather by young white professionals.

Reflecting on her time guiding the Seattle Police Foundation, Mathers said:  “It was truly an honor to work with the many amazing men and women of SPD. I saw only big hearts and dedication to serving a community and improving lives. After seeing the evil of mankind perpetrated daily, they got up every day to face it again and pray they returned home safely to see their families again.”

Both are undertaking their roles confident that they’ll get more yes than no responses as they go about their fundraising duties in the Bellevue community.

 
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Cody Peterson's disruptive inventions aren't unnoticed

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Serial inventor Cody Peterson is surprisingly little known beyond the two industries his technologies have disrupted, though he's hardly gone unnoticed, being named “Most Creative Person” by Inc Magazine in 2012.

That was the year his first company, Pacinian, the Coeur d’Alene, ID, manufacturer of his lightest-weight-ever keyboard, as thick as a credit card, as well as touch-screen innovations, was acquired by Silicon Valley-based Symantic, a market leader in touch screen technology.

Now Peterson, 46, and his team at Rohinni, also a Coeur d’Alene company, are poised to change the entire lighting and display industry worldwide with the revolutionary development of mini and micro LEDs.

The LED industry is well aware of Rohinni, even if not likely aware of the extent of his intent for his invention’s “potential to be like GE or Phillips, changing every industry that uses light.”

Cody Peterson R and sons Brandon L and Reece CCody Peterson (R) and sons Brandon (L) and Reece (C)My bet is that most readers of this column and many tech-industry people, as well as potential investors, haven’t heard of Peterson whereas, were Rohinni located in Silicon Valley or East Puget Sound, media entities and wanna-be participants in the company’s growth would be beating a path to his door.

Instead, Rohini’s growth, as with Pacinian before it, has been in lab space in developer John Stone's Riverstone Development of condos, office buildings, hotels, and restaurants on the river. Over the seven years since it was founded, Rohinni has been under the supporting eye of patient and friendly capital, with Stone as a primary investor since start-up day, in a business environment where a guy who lets others wear the CEO title can focus on family as well as business.

With an emphasis on business acumen, Stone refers to Peterson as “the miracle from Idaho.”

Other investors, in addition to Stone, include Future Shape Principal Tony Fadell, the inventor of the iPod, head of iPhone development, and founder and former CEO of Nest.

Peterson, a mechanical engineering graduate of Washington State University, says that over the past three years, Rohinni has devised a mini-LED as a light source “that’s about one-tenth as thick as a regular LED and about six times brighter while costing roughly the same.”

“I don’t usually drink the kool-aid, but I know the benefits of what we created that the entire lighting industry will change direction and do what we’re doing,” said Peterson, a Native American who grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, MT.

Without disclosing individual clients, Peterson said: “Rohinni is dealing with some of the world’s largest consumer electronic companies to launch screens much, much brighter than anything in the market today, while also enabling them to use mini and micro LEDs to design lighting in ways never before possible throughout their product lines.”

And he predicts television screens with Rohini miniLEDs “will be 10 times brighter with one-tenth the energy.”
 
A major coup for Rohinni came two years ago when it announced a joint venture with Beijing Electronics (BOE, formerly Beijing Oriental Electronics Group), among the world’s largest suppliers of technology products.

A news release announcing the joint venture said: “With distinctive, high-performance displays in high demand and a requirement for competitive consumer electronics or industrial products, BOE and Rohinni will be forming a joint venture to produce ultra-thin micro LED lighting solutions for display backlights. Together, BOE and Rohinni will usher in a new era of displays with unprecedented speed, accuracy, and yields compared with existing manufacturing processes.”

Oh, and waiting in the wings for the unveiling is Peterson’s newest Coeur d’Alene-based company, Qurrent, and his invention, a 100 percent electric boat. basically an autonomous craft.

As the website for Qurrent explains: “For the last three years we have been using our development platform ‘Frank’ and have created the building blocks to provide a 100 percent electric boat. Qurrent provides a safer, newer, and zen-inspired experience through the use of all new technology and an AI-controlled system. we are enabling entirely new boating experiences never before thought possible.”

Never short of seemingly impossible goals, Peterson said during our interview: “You know what Google did with Google Earth (a 3D representation of Earth based on satellite imagery)? We can do that for the sea and the oceans.”

John StoneJohn StoneI actually went to Coeur d’Alene a couple of weeks ago both to meet Peterson with Stone’s introduction and to evaluate Coeur d’Alene’s potential as a prospect for the zoom-town-focused business, ZoomTown Communities, that a media partner and I are launching.

I learned Stone and Peterson have basically already helped make Coeur d’Alene a zoom town, boosting innovation, while coupled with a growing appeal to vacation and permanent residents from Seattle and beyond and condominium towers to house them.

Peterson’s contributions include not just Pacinian and Rohinni, and soon Qurrent, but also what he calls the Innovation Den in downtown Coeur d’Alene, a large old multi-story brick building that has 50 small offices to house start-ups and entrepreneurs.

He and a friend bought the century-old building that had sat empty for more than 25 years and four years ago Cody and his wife Danelle, his high school sweetheart from Cut Bank High School. opened Coeur d’Alene Coffee Company as an espresso shop in the Den that he and Danelle and sons Reece, 20, and Braden, 23, turned building it into a family project.

Peterson said Braden made a commitment to source and roast coffee for the Den and explained: “he started looking at ways coffee is made and devised a new, more automated way to create really good pour-overs without having the barista stand there the whole time. It was neat to see him apply those little nuggets I’ve hoped he would learn from me.”

The comment is a hint of the importance being a father plays in Peterson’s life. And the kinds of lessons he teaches include “if you have lofty goals you attract smart people,” and “don’t let anyone slow you down,” both lessons that have carried Peterson far, before he’s as widely known, as he is certain to be.

 

 

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Four reporters who challenged WMD justification for Iraq War to be honored

Shock Wave Movie Shock Wave Movie: A 'fake news' tale to justify a war

Editor's note: Although “fake news” has, for some, become a way to disparage the accuracy of news reports, support for two of the nation’s most disastrous conflicts was built on “fake news” fashioned by no less than the men who were presidents.

I was reminded of that with word of an event this week to honor four reporters whose continuous challenge to the President George Bush administration’s claim of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to justify the preparations for the March 2003, invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein brought them to ridicule from journalistic peers and public criticism.\\

Perhaps second only to Lyndon Johnson’s creation of what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident to get the backing of Congress to wage the Vietnam war as he saw fit was George W. Bush’s masterful creation of the need to deal with Hussein’s alleged stockpile of WMD.

But this column is not to focus on the public manipulation by presidents but on the importance of journalistic courage to counter such efforts as a pillar of Democracy.

Rather the occasion is that the four reporters, including my friend Joe Galloway, who were covering the preparation for war from the Washington bureau of Knight-Ridder Newspapers, will receive the Defenders of Liberty Awards from an organization called the Committee for the Republic. Also honored will be the 2017 movie about the four called Shock and Awe, a drama conceived and directed by Rob Reiner, who also co-starred as John Walcott, the newspaper chain’s Washington bureau chief.

I am using the occasion of the honor to reprise a column I did when the movie came out three years ago, again because journalistic integrity and courage need to be shared to be appreciated. Encouraged. And sustained.

-------------------
As I wrote in that March 2017, column, it's perhaps appropriate that a degree of attention has focused on a movie about four professional journalists who were certain, in the face of all the forces arrayed against them, that President George Bush and his administration had concocted a "fake news" tale to justify a war in Iraq.

The movie is Shock and Awe, the title drawn from the campaign of that name created by the leaders of the Bush Administration in preparation for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a plan built on the premise that Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction. Of course, the term "fake news" wasn't part of our culture then, especially being applied to a president.

The movie, conceived and directed by Rob Reiner, has been described as "the politically charged story" about the four reporters from the Washington, D.C., bureau of the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain who first looked into the Bush Administration's attempts to tie Saddam to the 9-11 terror attack. Thereafter their some 80 stories followed a theme that the allegations of WMDs were intentionally inaccurate.
 
The understandable support for Bush and his build-up for the war from the general public and others was the nation’s need for some cathartic revenge against someone for 9/11, thus the focus on Hussein in the year following that disaster toward the attack on Iraq in March of 2003.

One of the four reporters was iconic Vietnam correspondent Joseph L. Galloway, then more than 35 years into his career covering wars and those who fight them and thus the voice of experience that the two younger reporters, Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, turned to for help in finding their way through the fabrications formed to keep the nation focused on the need for war with Iraq.

It is because of my friendship with Galloway, both of us alums of the news service UPI, and because many in the Seattle area came to know him during his two visits to do Vietnam veterans interviews and several interviews he and I did, including the Seattle Rotary, that I decided to do a Harp about the movie.
 
JoeGalloway aJoe GallowayRegular readers of the Harp will recall that Joe Galloway has been the subject of a half-dozen Harps in recent years (Google Flynn's Harp: Joe Galloway).
 
Eventually, the four including Knight-Ridder bureau chief John Walcott, played by Reiner himself, came to be described as "the only ones who got it right," but before that, they had to weather immense pressure and scorn, not only from the White House but also from peer publications and some editors of their own newspapers. 
 
For example, there is the story of the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer saying bluntly that the tone of their stories doesn't "fit in." And Galloway recalled "There is a scene in the movie where Walcott confronts the Philadelphia editor for choosing to run ‘New York Times b.s. over our story.’ He taunts the editor with 'will you be running the Times correction and apology when that comes out?'"
 
It was after watching a Bill Moyers’ interview with the reporters that Reiner decided to produce a movie dramatizing Knight Ridder’s lonely work. Released in 2017, Reiner ends “Shock and Awe” with a news clip of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, a constant journalistic supporter of the Bush WMD campaign, admitting the media got WMD wrong – “except for Knight-Ridder.”

The movie includes Miller’s comments, as well as Sen. Robert Byrd’s moving speech drawing parallels between the lies that drew America into its Vietnam debacle and the falsehoods that would destroy many American and Iraqi lives in Iraq.

There is a perhaps ironic juxtaposition of the timing of the release of the critically acclaimed The Post, whose storyline about the Washington Post's publisher, Kathrine Graham deciding to confront the Nixon White House by publishing the Pentagon Papers, and Shock and Awe detailing a confrontation with a different president and more recent time. And a reluctance of the newspaper to be part of the confrontation.
 
In fact, Reiner suggests that the struggle he had to secure U.S. distribution for the movie might relate to his belief that "American audiences might not be ready to confront the subject."
 
I didn't think anybody in America could stomach it," Reiner said. "I don't think they can stomach it now, to be honest with you."

The start of the Iraq War and how its continuation has unfolded in the years since then may be viewed as too near to current political realities for close scrutiny of the legitimacy of the Bush Administration's campaign to go to war. In fact, the allegation that the WMD case built by key members of the Bush team was fabricated still draws outrage from some conservatives.
 
It's obviously much easier to take a critical look at Richard Nixon, or with Reiner's LBJ, released last year bringing a critical look at another former president, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
 
In fact, Reiner's LBJ screenwriter, Joey Hartstone, also wrote Shock and Awe, and actor Woody Harrelson, who played LBJ. Plays one of the reporters in Shock and Awe.
 
The fact Reiner was greeted with two separate standing ovations last September (2017) at the Zurich International Film Festival for the world premiere of Shock and Awe may have contributed to the firming up of presentation in this country.
 
The movie was the second time that Galloway will have the opportunity to watch an actor on the screen playing him. Tommy Lee Jones in this case.
 
The other was the movie We Were Soldiers, which was released ironically in the year prior to the Iraq invasion, as the film version of Galloway's book, We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, co-authored by Hal Moore, the commanding officer of U.S. troops in the battle of Ia Drang. Later events, including Galloway’s subsequent reporting, made clear that in November 1965, la Drang battle, the first between U.S. forces and North Vietnam regular army troops were the losses on both sides convinced Ho Chi Minh that the U.S. could not win, was the defining battle of a war that would drag on for another decade and claim 55,000 American lives.
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National Women's History Month: recalling women reporters in Viet Nam

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It seems appropriate for National Women’s History Month to reflect on a group of women who have never gotten their due, even though they eagerly went where all but the bravest men feared to tread?

I’m referring, of course, to the Vietnam War and the group of brave women reporters who decided this was their war too, in fact, their first war, and that they were going to a place where shared peril would be the equalizing factor.

In fact, Dickey Chapelle, a writer for the National Observer, became the first female war correspondent to be killed in Vietnam, as well as the first American female reporter to be killed in action.

That was on November 4, 1965, mere months after the first wave of U.S. forces had arrived in Vietnam when she was struck in the neck by shrapnel from an exploding land mine while on patrol with a marine platoon.Tracy WoodTracy Wood

A handful of those women journalists of that era were fortunate to work for a news organization, United Press International, whose top management recognized that talent and competitiveness were all that mattered. If women reporters could fight to be the best in UPI’s on-going battle with the AP for journalistic preeminence, why should they be denied the opportunity?

But sometimes the women needed to evidence a bit more ingenuity to get the Vietnam assignment.

So it was with my late friend Tracy Wood, who was a reporter in UPI’s Sacramento bureau in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s while I was running UPI’s Olympia bureau. So we knew each other’s names though we didn’t meet and become friends until a decade ago.

As Tracy once explained to me, "Of the more than 2,200 journalists who were accredited by the U.S. military to cover Vietnam between 1965 and 1975, only 70 of them were women and most of those went in only for a short time to cover specific stories, such as someone from their town."

"It was hard for women to cover the Vietnam War," said Wood, who was an investigative reporter for Voice of Orange County at the time of her death from cancer in late 2019, after years in the investigative reporter role with the LA Times.

"The military would give you credentials, but the leaders of the top news organizations were opposed to sending women reporters to cover combat. Magazines would use women reporters, but not the wires or big news organizations like The NY Times or WA Post."

Wood didn't get to Vietnam until 1972 when she was 24 and it took careful planning for a young woman who was a political writer for UPI in Sacramento to get to the New York bureau where her lobbying would be closer to the decision-makers.

Her immediate boss on the UPI cables desk didn't think a woman should cover wars. But Wood had the good fortune to work for UPI, whose top editors Roger Tatarian and H. L. Stevenson believed in the ability of women to report just as well as men, and dispatched several high-visibility female correspondents to the war zone. So it was soon Wood's turn.

One of the best-known correspondents of that war, male or female, was Kate Webb, a New Zealand-born Australian who began as a freelancer in Vietnam at 24 and so, as Wood explained to me of Webb, “her credentials were so strong UPI couldn't fail to hire her."
 
Kate WebbKate WebbThat was in 1967 when she was 25. Webb quickly proved her mettle, becoming the first wire service reporter at the U.S. Embassy on the morning the Tet offensive was launched in January 1968.

That spring she survived an American rocket attack on a Saigon military building that killed everyone around her, including the South Vietnamese police chief. She brushed herself off, ran back into the rubble to aid the wounded, then wrote a stirring account of the incident.

And Kate made news herself when in 1971 she was captured by North Vietnamese troops operating in Cambodia. Premature official reports that a body discovered was Webb's prompted a New York Times obituary, but she emerged from captivity 23 days after she was captured, having endured forced marches, interrogations, and malaria.  Of Wood’s getting to Vietnam, she explained to me: "I had to go over my boss' head to get sent to Vietnam and, once there, covered combat only after colleagues quietly showed me what I needed to do.”
 
Wood played a significant role involving coverage of the first public release of prisoners of war.  "I was able to cover the end of combat and was the only U.S. reporter to cover the first public release of the POWs from Hanoi," Wood recalled for me for one of my columns on her.

Perhaps it took a woman to figure out the quickest way to get approval to go to Hanoi at a time when every news agency and reporter was trying to figure out a way to get there. She merely sent a request to the North Vietnam government asking permission.
 
"Later, I was able to negotiate with the North Vietnamese for UPI to lease a plane and bring in about 30 reporters, photographers, and TV crews to cover the final POW release." Those POWs included John McCain.
 
Both Webb, who died of cancer in 2007, and Wood have chapters in "War Torn, Stories of War From the Women Reporters Who Covered Vietnam." It's a book whose contents are touted as "nine women who made journalism history talk candidly about their profession in deeply personal experiences as young reporters who lived, worked and loved surrounded by war."

A year after her death, Australia issued a postage stamp to commemorate Webb.  In reflecting on the conversations with Wood, and recalling the book in which both she and Webb had chapters of their recollections, it occurred to me they would have provided an interesting segment of Ken Burns’ Viet Nam documentary. Too bad.

When I asked my friend and one-time UPI colleague, Joe Galloway, one of the most respected Vietnam correspondents over his several tours there for UPI, about the women reporters, he summed it up thusly:

“Met and worked with Tracy Wood on my subsequent tours in Vietnam. Worked closely with Kate Webb and Betsy Halstead. Also knew Francis FitzGerald and Cathy Leroy,” Joe said.

“I had the greatest respect for the women who came to cover the war. They had different eyes and covered different stories...and that broadened everyone’s coverage of the war,” Galloway added.

“The ones I knew were fearless in combat and determined to get the story. I raise my Stetson in salute "
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Maybe Seahawks could start a new 'Wilson era,' with Zach — not Russell

Zach-Wilson_BYU-Quarterback

As sports media types toss around ideas about possible outcomes for the apparent growing gulf in the relations between the Seattle Seahawks and star quarterback Russell Wilson, none has offered, or likely considered, the idea of just starting a new “Wilson Era.” Not with Russell but with Zach.

Zach Wilson is the BYU quarterback who has risen dramatically since he entered BYU as the top Utah high school quarterback. He capped his freshman year earning MVP honors in the Potato Bowl in which his passing (including an 18 for 18 perfect day in the air) and running guided BYU to victory over Western Michigan.

So in the 2020 season, his junior year after which he decided to turn pro, Zach Wilson was number one in the nation in pass attempts (336), completions (247), total yards (3,692), and touchdowns (33). Incidentally, 10 of those TD’s were on runs. Zach ran 70 times for 254 yards, evidencing a penchant and talent to put it in the air or run for it with equal confidence, similar to Russell Wilson.

Zach WilsonZach WilsonNow a top NFL draft expert has declared that Zach Wilson, assumed to be one of the top quarterback picks in the forthcoming draft, is not only better than Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence but more polished for the NFL than any quarterback in the 2021 draft.

Some of those media types are theorizing on what backup quarterbacks are out there whom the Seahawks could look to trade for if Russell Wilson presses to be and is traded.

Interestingly, Zach, at 6-3 and 210-pounds, has four inches on the 5-11 Russell to get a better look past oncoming pass rushers.

And he would be most likely of any prospective successor to Russell Wilson to emulate the good-guy image that Russell evidenced prior to the finger-pointing between him and the Seahawks now being played out.

In fact, the final sales pitch to Zach three years ago by BYU coach Kilani Sitaki may be without precedent in the annals of college recruiting.

Wilson was already committed to Boise State from among nearly 20 offers from schools around the country but decided, at the end of a four-hour conversation he and his mom, Lisa, and dad, Mike, had with head coach Sitaki to change his mind.  As the four-hour meeting ended, coach Sitake, a one-time starting fullback at BYU, made one final pitch.

“Zach, you can drive home every Sunday night and have dinner with your family.” Offered Sitaki, knowing Wilson’s home was in Draper, about 18 miles from BYU in Provo.
Zach is just a home kid,” explained Lisa. “He wanted to be home for Sunday dinners. He wanted to be home for Tuesday night dinners when his beloved grandparents have a standing invitation. He wanted his family to be able to see him play.”

I have written about Zach before he was known to any but local Utah writers because his “beloved” grandpa, Gary Neeleman, is my closest longtime friend from our days as colleagues as western executives with United Press International.

Gary began sending me emails about Zach from the point at which he was judged the best high school quarterback in Utah.

Zach hasn’t made any comments about where he’d like to play and when I asked Gary if I could maybe talk with Zach about that he said: “he’d have to get his agent’s ok and he’s a shy kid who wouldn’t press his agent about doing an interview, or indicating whether he might like to come to Seattle.”

My hope was that a week after getting an unlikely interview with Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few I might have a chance to talk with the 21-year old who (were he to be Russell’s successor) might soon make Seattle fans happy with the outcome.
Gary relayed the word from Zach yesterday. “I talked to my agency and they said no to the article, unfortunately. Tell your friend I am sorry.”

Much would have to occur in terms of a deal for a Russell Wilson trade and successful dealing by Zach’s agent for there to be a new Wilson leading the Seahawks into the future.

But should that come about, Seattle could be like a second hometown to the young Wilson. Gary told me Zach’s teenage cousin, one of three daughters of his prominent Seattle attorney uncle, John Neeleman, “was glued to the TV for every play of every game.”

“She keeps pleading with him, ‘please come to the Seahawks,” Gary chuckled.

And another uncle, David Neeleman, founder of Jet Blue and Brazil’s Azul, will have a fleet of jetliners for his new Salt Lake-based airline and could presumably borrow one to fill with the dozens of relatives to fly to Seattle home games. As when 50 family members were in the stands in Boise for that 2019 Potato Bowl.

 
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Virtual event to celebrate 20 who rose to COVID challenge in innovative ways

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The 20 of 2020 Awards Ceremony takes place virtually Thursday to celebrate a select group of business and non-profit leaders who rose to the COVID-19 challenge in innovative ways to support the community’s needs while sustaining their businesses.

Much well-deserved attention has been given to medical personnel, first responders, and other essential workers who have formed the frontline of this state’s response to the pandemic. And the selection of these 20 should in no way diminish the recognition of the pervasive importance of the contributions of all those essential workers.

But the intent of the creators of the 20 of 2020 was to celebrate those in business who recognized they suddenly had to assume a community responsibility along with their continued business challenges.

During my 24 years as publisher of the Business Journal, I had the good fortune to launch many of the events that annually celebrate segments of the business community. Thus 40 Under 40, Women of Influence, 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies, and Minority Business Awards ensure that new groups meriting recognition will emerge each year.

But when it occurred to me that a special group of individuals would emerge from 2020 and that they should be sought out for special honor, it was clear there was no intent for this to be an annual award. Rather the hope was that the passing of the pandemic would ensure this would be a one-time honor.

But the likely long-term impact of the COVID on business and the economy could produce a new breed of business outliers, in essence helping create a new definition of business success.
And the measure of their model going forward could well become, in relation to their roles as community leaders, “how much did you care and how did you show it?"

And the best indication that the 20 we are honoring are the only representative of a wide array of business and non-profit leaders who could be equally honored was a comment made to me by one of the honorees.

Joan Wallace, longtime Bellevue business leader, and philanthropist explained to me her view of what has gone on across her community and the region is “loving and caring people intersecting at the crossroads of need.”

Stories on each of the honorees are contained in a special print publication and a digital version that is being produced by marketingnw.com, a creator and partner in the event.

The digital publication for the event is available without charge. So view the honoree's stories

The print version of Marketing, under publisher Larry Coffman, was for decades the information source for the marcomm industry of Advertising, Public Relations, Creative Arts, Direct Marketing, Out-Of-Home Media, and Digital Media.

Prominent local broadcast personality Pat Cashman, best known for Almost Live!, the long-running television comedy program and his Pat Cashman radio show, will emcee the 20 of 2020 Thursday.

Cashman is presenting each honoree a plaque commemorating his or her selection to this esteemed and diverse group. They also will be feted at a reception in the Columbia Tower
Club when the COVID restriction on in-person gatherings has been lifted.

This event was originally scheduled as a live event at the Columbia Tower Club and thus the club is a sponsor of the virtual event and is providing the virtual platform.

Katrina Eileen Romatowski of Katrina Eileen Real Estate brokerage in Seattle chairs the Columbia Tower Club events committee and in that role helped create the concept for this event, for which her firm is also a co-sponsor.
 
"The 20 for 2020 will recognize leaders and innovators who have demonstrated an uncanny ability to tap into what the human spirit truly needs in these most challenging of times," she said.

 
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Suzi LeVine, who oversaw the state's jobless pay disaster, takes Biden post

dept-of-labor-seal

Suzi LeVine, who oversaw this state’s unemployment-payments disaster last year, apparently is assuming a key role in the Biden Administration overseeing the agency that helps all 50 states manage unemployment benefits.

A Bloomberg news report Friday that she is assuming the key post as of today was the first word of the position she is taking although LeVine said when she resigned from her state post that she was taking a spot in the Biden Administration. But conservative media and commentators have already begun to howl.

Suzi LevineSuzi LevineSome may know that LeVine raised $400,000 for Biden’s election campaign and is said to have raised more than $2 billion for Barack Obama in his presidential campaign. And she plays a key role as Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Fundraising Committee.

Now there’s nothing unusual about presidents rewarding important friends as they fill out their administration and ambassador roles and Donald Trump did that to a major degree, in essence filling a swamp he promised to drain.

But with Biden, some of us came to expect a new order and LeVine’s appointment to a key position, rather than the ambassadorship to Switzerland and Lichtenstein that Obama gave her, seems to smell more like the old swamp.

The new job, interim assistant secretary of the Employment and Training Administration, would put LeVine at the forefront of the Biden administration’s economic response to the pandemic, which has cost the United States nearly 10 million jobs since February.

How much responsibility LeVine actually bears for this state’s unemployment disaster and the pain the department’s ineptitude cost those who lost their jobs might be determined by just examining the records.

Well, guess what. That’s precisely what respected Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner, my friend Lynn Brewer, who built a national reputation as a whistleblower for the Enron disaster 20 years ago, and the state auditor have been rebuffed in trying to do.

Brunner last week released a string of his Twitter messages, dating back seven months, detailing his unsuccessful effort to see LeVine emails to and from Gov. Jay Inslee. His frustration prompted him to observe in one such Twitter message that she was either incompetent or hiding something.

That’s basically the same conclusion reached by Brewer in her similar months-long effort, including now going to court, to get emails between LeVine and Inslee.

And while State Auditor Pat McCarthy, a respected Democratic state elected official, might agree with Brunner’s assessment after her battle to get records from LeVine’s office, she still has several ESD audits to complete before we get her analysis.

Lynn BrewerLynn BrewerBrewer is an interesting addition to this intriguing mix since she knows a few things about financial shenanigans and malfeasance from her days as an executive at Enron, which she departed a few months before the 2001 bankruptcy of what had been hailed as "America's most innovative company."
 
Thus when Brewer and her husband's unemployment checks were caught up in the ESD scheme and the resulting scandal, she expressed a sense of "I've been here before," with strong indignation in her voice
 
In her book, " Confessions of an Enron Executive: A Whistleblower’s Story," after her 2001 departure from Enron, she detailed what happened inside the company. And for several years, she was a sought-after national speaker on the topic of corporate integrity.
 
"This is a governance failure of Enron proportions," Brewer said.

"From my experience at Enron, I believe there are underlying issues with ESD that have not been revealed to the public or to the media," she added.

It would be a shame if those issues were brought out by Republican Senators at whatever point LeVine faces Senate approval to fill her role on a full-time basis. In fact, Democratic Senators should begin asking to have her come before the Senate for approval or rejection, for the sake of Biden’s integrity image. Or merely end her "interim" job with a departure.

As it stands, having LaVine carry the title of “interim” with no explanation from the Administration of why will soon become the target of any Republicans or conservative media seeking dirt on Biden. They are likely to ask “what are they hiding by not seeking her confirmation before the Senate?”

Fox News has proven adept at taking a molehill of Democratic dirt and turning it into a mountain. So what happens when Fox is handed a mountain to make something out of? A political volcano? If so who gets buried in the political ash that falls?

 
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COVID's work-from-home dynamic may fuel a boom in "ZoomTowns"

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The concept of Zoom Towns is the recently emerging phenomenon that has resulted from the COVID-19 impact as workers have adapted dramatically to working from home and “zooming” to work and thus relating to fellow employees in a new way.

The reality that is dawning on employees, particularly tech employees and professionals, is that if you can plan to work long term from home, then home can be distant from company headquarters and in virtually any appealing community they might like. And a lot of employers are coming to support that trend.

It’s becoming clear to leaders of large cities, particularly San Francisco but also Seattle, whose office core emptied out that those who were free to work remotely, or were instructed to do so by their employers, had found an option that may well transcend the eventual end of the pandemic. And that may change the future of those tall-building cores.

So welcome to Zoom Towns, scenic communities that are experiencing a surge of house hunters among those workers freed by COVID to work from home long term.

Some early-innovator communities experiencing the spurt in home and condo sales are coming to realize that a marketing campaign to let potential “zoomers” know what they have to offer could generate a boom in zoomers. And it’s a realization that will soon come to a growing number of appealing smaller communities, and even not so small.

Topeka, Kan., started Choose Topeka, which will reimburse new workers $10,000 for the first year of rent or $15,000 if they buy a home. Tulsa, Okla. will pay you $10,000 to move there.

Zoom Town isn’t yet a designation with broad familiarity. But I am betting it soon will be as early learners are realizing that the term “Zoom Towns” is new enough that it can be captured in the names of businesses emerging to provide services to those who wish to become part of the trend.

 I am actually working with friends and colleagues in several states to seize on that opportunity, including Seattle realtor Katrina Eileen Romatowski who has captured the name ZoomTownRealty with virtually every domain name extension that anyone might think of.

The man who chronicled the growth aspirations of small towns across America then became the evangelist for those communities that he called Boomtowns isn’t surprised at the emergence of Zoom Towns.

John M. (Jack) Schultz, who became the national guru of rural economic development in the 2000s decade for his research on thousands of small towns and his book, Boomtown USA: 7 ½ keys to Big Success in Small Towns, thinks Zoom Towns are a natural evolution for small towns. Except he agrees the post-pandemic role for them may be to supplant rather than just supplement the core of major cities as places to live and work.

The way he puts it is a community, whether urban center or smaller towns (which he notes can also be appealing suburbs of those major cities, like Bellevue or Kirkland), “need to have a sense of place, something that major cities have lost in the year of protests, loss of safe living areas and need for social distancing.”

 Schultz is the founder and CEO of Agracel Inc, which he began as a small farmland investment company in his hometown of Effingham, IL, in 1986. In 1993, Jack took a gigantic leap of faith with his first industrial development project and has never looked back.  

Schultz’s book was published in early 2004. The Boomtown USA project took more than three years of intense research beginning with 15,800 small towns across the country, he told me. The list was narrowed to an outstanding group of 397 towns, that Jack affectionately named AGURBS. He told me with a chuckle, as we visited on the phone a couple of weeks ago about the ZoomTown phenomenon, that he didn’t coin the phrase Boomtowns, merely made them known.

“But the term AGURBS is mine,” said Schultz, whom I met on the Internet when I began this column 13 years ago and discovered his blog and we became each other’s readers and sometimes quoted each other and I’ve done several columns on him.

Are there any boomtowns that could be likely ZoomTowns?

Likely one in this state, Schultz suggests, noting that Leavenworth was featured prominently in his book.

“Seven women who were a junior women’s club who didn’t have a clue to what they were doing made up their minds to turn around a town that was dying,” he recalled. “They had 11 families that had moved to Leavenworth from Bavaria because of the surrounding mountains and they became keys to the campaign to create a Bavarian Village.”

Today the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth, a two-hour drive from Seattle, is one of the state’s top tourist attractions and my bet is they will soon begin an effort to attract Zoomers as full-time residents.

Another place in this state, maybe less known than resort communities, that I'm betting will become a Zoom Town is Seabrook on the Washington coast but on the inland side of Highway 109 on an otherwise remote section of the oceanfront.

Seabrook, which creator Casey Roloff says he and his wife sought to create Mayberry when they set out to build their planned community, was already seeing dramatic growth before COVID. But the post-COVID work-from-home phenomenon may well make Seabrook like Zoom Town on steroids.

Referring to findings from his visits to hundreds of small towns to gather information for his book, Schultz told me in an email: "Embracing entrepreneurism in communities was a key factor that differentiated great communities from also-rans.”

So a question ZoomTown advocates will likely ask is “does remote work really work?”

A survey in August by the Boston Consulting Group found that 79 percent of the 12,000 employees questioned on remote work indicated they are satisfied or doing better on the four factors of social connectivity, mental health, physical health, and workplace tools. And they said they have been able to maintain or improve productivity on collaborative tasks.

 
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Neil Sheehan's book on Vietnam told of a far greater lie than Trump's finale

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It was ironic that the death at age 84 of prominent journalist Neil Sheehan, who chronicled the Bright Shiny Lie of President Lyndon Johnson’s conduct of the Vietnam War, should occur as the lie of the final chapter of the administration of Donald Trump was unraveling with the disastrous rampage by his followers at the Nation’s Capitol.

The riot through the Capitol last Wednesday was the response of Trump’s angry followers, convinced that the lie was that Trump had lost the election. And the rioters were only the criminal element of a legion of trump believers across the country.

For most of the country, the lie is Trump’s contending he won “by millions of votes,” despite the rejection of that idea by every judge, including many Trump had appointed, every governor of both parties called on to evaluate possible abuse in their state elections, every state election official who investigated allegations and found them false.

Many Republican members of Congress who had wished for Trump to win kept repeating their version of the lie as if somehow repetition could make it become true. Or at least confirm their loyalty to him.

In Lyndon Johnson’s case, the political professionalism with which the lie was carried out allowed the truth to come out only gradually and over years, It cost the lives of 55,000 American fighting men and untold pain, suffering, and destruction in the U.S. and in the nation’s of Southeast Asia.

Sheehan was one of a group of young men, and women, who covered the Vietnam War during the mid and late 1960s, first as bureau manager for United Press International and later for the New York Times, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1971 disclosure of the Pentagon Papers that revealed how U.S. government officials had lied to the American people about the Vietnam War.

The Nixon Administration tried unsuccessfully to keep the Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers. Nixon hadn’t created the massive lie but his administration had inherited it and, as the nation was being torn apart over the war, felt the need to continue it so that peace talks that had gotten underway in spring of 1968 soon after Johnson announced he would not seek re-election might eventually lead to an honorable exit for the U.S. But the Washington Post joined in the publishing, basically ignoring a court order, and the Supreme Court upheld the right of both newspapers to publish those documents.

The lie actually began three months before Johnson’s runaway victory over Barry Goldwater in 1964 and may have been motivated to rally voters behind a “wartime president,” although that has never been discussed As far as I can find.

It was August 2, 1964, that North Vietnam, which wasn’t yet the actual enemy at the time since the U.S. had not actually introduced combat troops into the effort to help South Vietnam’s war against the Viet Cong, handed Johnson the script for the lie. Two of its patrol torpedo (PT) boats fired shots at a U.S. destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin in international waters off the coast of the two Vietnams.

The incident wasn’t serious enough to merit a defense department response. But when a similar incident was reported two days later, it almost instantly led to Johnson asking Congress on August 7, with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, to give him the power to do whatever necessary, including the use of Armed Forces, to basically assist the South. The Johnson administration subsequently relied upon the resolution to begin its rapid escalation of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam and open warfare between the North and the United States.

Robert S. McNamara, LBJ’s defense secretary, in a 2003 documentary titled The Fog of War admitted that the August 2 incident hadn’t been significant enough to concern the Defense Department and that the August 4 incident “never happened.”

The U.S, Senate approved the resolution with little debate and with only Sens. Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska, both respected Democrats, voting “no.” Gruening, in 1968, wrote his own book on Vietnam, titled Vietnam Folly. But the vast majority of senators, who represented a Democrat super-majority, had no interest in clashing with LBJ.

The late Ray Herndon, who had been a UPI correspondent in Vietnam from 1962 to 1967, was 26 and already a veteran of covering the war when the event occurred. Herndon was one of several former UPI Vietnam correspondents with whom I became friends following my retirement from the Business Journal because we had all worked for the wire service at the same time. And all who worked at UPI shared the need to recall their time there as the best of our times, despite the fact we went on to successful careers in newspapers and even though our roles were entirely different, they made names for themselves in the combat zone and I a political writer in Olympia.

A couple of years before his 2015 death from cancer at the age of 77and I asked Herndon, for a column I was writing, how news of the incident was greeted by the then-small press corps.

“there was a great deal of skepticism among the press corps in Saigon about the incident,”: Herndon told me. “We all thought ‘that’s pretty unlikely,’ but we had no way to actually question it.”

Before long, U.S, forces began to grow and the military propaganda machine cranked up. Sheehan and the Associated Press correspondent, Malcolm Browne, served an unrecognized vital role for U.S. media of handling the releases spewing from the propaganda machine judiciously.

Another of those UPI correspondents who became a friend was Joe Galloway, who was the only journalist who participated in and wrote about the first actual battle between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces in the Ia Drang Valley in November of 1965. His book on the battle, We Were Soldiers Once..and Young, and the movie made from it, We Were Soldiers made it one of the best-known battles of the war. It was the battle that may have provided fodder to make the lie one that would last forever in this nation’s history.

As Galloway later wrote, It was defining because it "convinced Ho(Chi Minh), (General) Giap and (Defense Secretary Robert S.) McNamara the U.S. could never win." The realization of both sides was that the American citizenry would not accept for a long period the pace of casualties that the companion battles in the Ia Drang Valley produced.

 
Although President Johnson, having listened to McNamara's sense that we couldn't win in Viet Nam, no matter how many men we sent there, huddled with his key advisors and they determined: "send the soldiers anyway," said Galloway, who only speaks of LBJ’s memory in four-letter words.

Before long, as U.S. forces went into battle against the Viet Cong and sometimes with units from the north, “body count” became the way to keep track of how the U.S, forces were doing, with no one to verify the count and growing pressure to just boost the numbers.

Sheehan and Browne dug out details about battlefield casualties and wrote dispatches that challenged upbeat reports from the daily press briefings that came to be ridiculed as “Five O’Clock Follies.”

Generals labeled Sheehan a liar and politicians called him unpatriotic and claimed that his reports were even detrimental to national security.
 
When he received the Drew Pearson prize for excellence in investigative reporting in 1971, Sheehan said: “Some would have us believe that in publishing the Pentagon Papers we committed theft and treason. I believe that in publishing this history of the Vietnam War, we gave to the American people … a small accounting of a debt that can never be repaid.”

It took Sheehan 16 years to finally complete Bright Shiney Lie to tell the whole story.
 
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Retired secretaries of state Munro, Reed: Raffensperger merits national honor

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Two retired Washington State secretaries of state, both Republican and both among the nation’s most respected during their tenures, both think Georgia Secretary of state Brad Raffensperger deserves some sort of national honor for political courage for the manner in which he resisted pressure from President Donald Trump to alter the presidential election outcome in his state.

“Never has this sort of pressure been put on a local elected official,” said Ralph Munro, who served five terms as secretary of state, the elected role in Washington as well as most states, including Georgia, occupied by the state’s top elected official.

RalphMunro 1Ralph Munro“The secretary of state is elected to protect the voters and their ballots and to make sure the votes are honestly counted,” said Munro. “To have the president demand that Raffensperger find the votes to give him the election is unbelievable.”

“Raffensperger deserves national recognition for his political courage,” echoed Sam Reed, whose three terms in the top state election post followed Munro’s tenure and immediately preceded the election of Kim Wyman, the current Republican secretary of state, in 2012. “It’s outrageous that the president would ask him to fix the election.”

“Everyone should admire Raffensperger’s political courage,” added Reed, who experienced his own challenge where integrity clashed with politics, and for sometime after he paid the price in his relations with some state Republicans.

Reed’s challenge was in 2004 in the close gubernatorial race between eventual winner Christine Gregoire and the GOP challenger, Dino Rossi, a prominent ex-state senator. Rossi was declared the winner by Reed on election night with a 120-vote victory margin, which had shrunk to 42 votes on the automatic recount.

Gregoire then paid for another recount, which she was entitled by law to do, but was challenged by Republicans who expected Reed to support them. Gregoire won that second recount by 230 votes, after a State Supreme Court ruling that upheld Reed’s decision that she had a right to pay for a recount.

Reed told me he sent Raffensperger an email after the visibility uproar following the Saturday Trump call and expressed his empathy with the Georgian.

Reed said he also shared with Raffensperber that cries that the Democrats had stolen the 2004 election echoed from Republicans across the state and that he was told by irate Republicans for weeks after the election that had no chance to be re-elected.

Sam ReedSam Reed“I told Raffensperger that two years later I was re-elected with 60 percent of the vote,” Reed said. “I told him I thought most voters, including Republicans after things cooled down, appreciated that I had upheld the integrity of the election process.”

So what kind of recognition could Raffensperger get? Munro suggested the Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award that the National Association of Secretaries of States bestows to recognize individual acts of political courage, uncommon character, and selfless action in the realm of public service.

The award was created by the secretaries of state, including Munro, in 1992 and named for the former U.S. Senator from Maine, who jeopardized her career by speaking out against the red-baiting tactics of Senator Joseph P. McCarthy in the 1950s.

Munro and former Governor and U.S, Senator Dan Evans received that award several years ago for their leadership in welcoming Vietnamese refugees to Washington as the first state to reach out to those refugees after the 1975 fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War.

In any event, if other elected officials around the country follow the lead of Munro and Reed, Raffensberger’s actions will come to be recognized for a display of integrity in the face of political pressure that merits the thanks of all who realize that Democracy depends on that kind of courage.

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Greetings in Christmas art from long years ago

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Dear Friends and readers:
 
 In this strangest of holiday seasons coming in the midst of the darkness of COVID-19, the temptation is to focus on Christmas past or Christmas future and somehow bypass 2020. But there are memories for today that bring light in the darkness.

And those thoughts for today include sharing again, as I have shared each Holiday season for most of the 13 years of Flynn's Harp, the below re-creation of the art delivered long ago via wire-service teletype machines to media newsrooms around the nation during the quiet hours of Christmas Eve,

While friends of all of ours have come to reflect a varied array of religions and national origins beyond those for whom Christmas is a time of religious significance, the values that Christmas embodies transcend different beliefs and should be shared and cherished by all.

 In the days before computers, wire service teletype machines clacked away in newspaper and broadcast newsrooms around the nation and the world, bringing the news from all points to local media outlets.  
 
But in the quiet of the Christmas early hours in years past, in the offices of AP and United Press International, and those newspapers and broadcast stations around the nation, the teletype paper coming from the AP and UPI teletype printers would be graced with holiday art.
 
 For those like me 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 composed on their keyboards is one of the special memories of working for that once-proud company.  
 
The uniqueness of the tree below, a Christmas greeting delivered in nearly 50 languages, is that it is not in computer art but created by hand on a teletype keyboard, as with the wreath.
 
Happy Holidays!
-----------------

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

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                        d$$br           _z$$$$$$$F`
                         ?$$b._         ^?$$$$$$$
                          4$$$"    -eec. ""JP" ..eee$%..
                          -**N #c  -^***.eE ^z$P$$$$$$$$$r-
                 .ze$$$$$eu?$eu '$$$$b $=^*$$ .$$$$$$$$$$"
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The saving of NatureBridge was one of the hero stories of 2020

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Thanks to the commitment by Bellevue business leader Robert J. Holmes to helping kids experience the outdoors and to leaders of the Dean Witter Foundation and its support of environmental education programs, the survival of NatureBridge is one of the hero stories of 2020.

Throughout 2019, as in previous years, the NatureBridge campuses in various national parks were alive with activity with up to 35,000 students spending their days exploring the parks, engaging in scientific inquiry, and discovering their connection with nature.

Then came the pandemic and, like so many organizations and businesses, NatureBridge had to make the difficult decision to suspend in-person programming, threatening its ability to deliver on its mission and even threatening its survival after 49 years.

Robert HolmesRobert HolmesHolmes, CEO of The Holmes Group (THG) and a NatureBridge board member for whom the call of the wild has been a lifetime personal counterpoint to his role as a developer of both real estate and resort projects across North America, saw the closure as a "crisis."

So Holmes, who was president and CEO of Intrawest USA and president and CEO of Harbor Properties in Seattle before shifting to Bellevue where his projects have included Kemper Freeman's Bellevue Collection and whose resort projects have included the development of the Village at Mammoth, Schweitzer Mountain Resort and the Village at Whistler, was convinced he could guide a NatureBridge survival.

Beyond merely surviving, NatureBridge, with its goal of providing environmental education in national parks, has now launched distance learning programs in classrooms across the country to reach kids who may never visit a national park. So NatureBridge has been able to innovate and grow and is well-positioned now to weather the pandemic.

This all came about because Holmes, buoyed by his confidence in NatureBridge’s history of excellence and its strong leadership, called on his community to match his own contribution of up to $25,000. Not only did he get over $25,000 in donations but attracted the attention of Malcolm (Max) Witter, board member of the Dean Witter Foundation. a former Seattleite who now lives in the Coachella Valley.

For background, The Dean Witter Foundation supports specific wildlife conservation projects and seminal opportunities to improve and extend environmental education. The Foundation makes additional grants to launch and expand innovative K-12 public education initiatives and seeks to practice imaginative grantmaking in the fields of education and conservation.

So comes the personally satisfying aspects of this NatureBridge story, one that exemplifies that sometimes the writer gets to be more than an observer.

In April I did a column on Holmes, NatureBridge’s plight, and his personal call for a match to his $25,000.

I saw that Witter, who gets The Harp, had opened it so I emailed him to see if he would like to connect with Holmes.
He did and then discussed with fellow director Allison Witter Frey, a Seattlite and, like Malcolm, grandchild of Dean Witter.

they notified the remaining directors at The Dean Witter Foundation of the opportunity to help NatureBridge and Holmes’ two-for-one match. Between Holmes, Witter, and over 700 donors, NatureBridge raised $1.1 million in a few months.

Designed to support teachers and connect kids to nature, NatureBridge has been able to not only reach many of the students who were supposed to come to their in-person programs but also students who live hundreds of miles from a national park and might not ever be able to make the trip. Its leadership now sees the scale of impact as tremendous with this new online component.

And NatureBridge came to be able to conduct family camps in Yosemite, one of the four national parks where it looks to fully restore in-park programs once the pandemic permits. The others are Olympic, Golden Gate and Prince William Forest in Virginia.

So now as NatureBridge approaches its 50th year, it continues to make advancements in Distance Learning education. Its leaders know the pandemic will change the way they teach kids with quality distance learning experiences increasingly a part of high-quality education.

 
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Snowflake celebration sets the stage for Bellevue Square 75th year

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Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr. is seeking to cap a year of COVID tragedy and accompanying economic devastation with a memorable Holiday Season event to set the stage for the 75th anniversary of his Bellevue Square Mall.

It was clear that in this virus-impacted Holiday season Snowflake Lane, which annually has turned downtown Bellevue into a month-long enchanted scene, had to be reimagined if it was to be held at all in 2020.

“I thought about not doing it this year,” said Freeman, the Bellevue developer whose Bellevue Collection of retailers, restaurants, and hotels forms the core of Downtown Bellevue.

Kemper FreemanKemper Freeman“But with all things that have fouled up people’s lives this year, we didn’t think it would be right to also take away something as symbolically important as Snowflake Lane,” he added. “So while we can’t have the parade and performance with dancers and drummers, every night there will be twinkling lights and holiday music.”

“And while we can’t do Santa,’ Freeman noted, “we have the best display of Christmas lights ever in our 14 years, stretching a mile all around Bellevue Square.

Freeman’s pleasure with the holiday display is clearly a way for him to close a disastrous year of the pandemic as well as economic distress it caused and that likely played a role in the social unrest that occurred.

All had a dramatic impact on his business and his city, particularly the severe damage suffered by many of the mall’s retailers at the hands of rioters who embedded in the ranks of peaceful protesters then hurried away from the crowds to break into the mall.

It was at a cost that he hasn’t yet fully calculated that he helped restore the retail life of the 230 merchants and shops in the mall.

Now Freeman is looking forward to the year of celebration for Bellevue Square, launched 75 years and two generations ago by Freeman’s grandfather, Miller Freeman, and father Kemper Sr.

Plans for the 75th-anniversary celebration are just being finalized by his staff, Freeman said.

Freeman, now 79, chuckled as he shared the story of how his grandfather stirred comments across the business community, which labeled as “Freeman’s Folly” his decision to buy 10 acres in 1944 for $40,000, land that became the start of Bellevue Square. Two years later he assisted his son, Kemper Sr., to launch the shopping center.

Now in addition to an upbeat focus on 2021 for the 75th, Freeman is also welcoming the renaissance of the campaign to raise the funds necessary to complete the Performing Arts Center Eastside (PACE), a campaign that has basically been in limbo for the past year and a half.

Cathi Hatch, the Vice-Chair of the PACE board and leader of the fundraising effort, noted that what was once planned as a $200 million facility to fulfill the arts and cultural needs of the Eastside has gone up substantially in cost but the final figures aren’t complete.

But she did note that a search for major naming rights will be underway in full in the new year. The center has been part of Freeman’s vision since he and his wife, Betty, donated the land on the northeast corner of Bellevue downtown’s central core, on the same block as the Bellevue Hyatt.

Completion of PACE after fundraising is finished, will be several years further out.
 
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Lengthy effort to get documents in jobless-payment snafu leads to suit

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If the suit against the state Employment Security Department by a woman best described as a professional whistleblower is successful, it will be fair to say, objectively rather than as a political comment, that Gov. Jay Inslee is a slow learner. Only this time the failure to learn may cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.

Four years ago the recalcitrance of one of his department heads in dealing with a public disclosure request from the Seattle Times brought a court rebuke and a fine. Now a delayed public disclosure response related to the state’s unemployment disaster could bring the court down harder.

The failure of the governor to learn relates to the months-long effort by Lynn Brewer to get access to emails between Inslee and his now embattled Employment Security Department (ESD) Commissioner Suzie LeVine. Brewer gained prominence after leaving a budding career as an executive at energy giant Enron before its 2001 bankruptcy to become a high-visibility whistleblower.

Brewer has been seeking to determine the extent of responsibility by LeVine, and what Inslee knew, of the employment security disaster that rocked the state after COVID-19 struck. First thieves pirated $650-million in unemployment insurance from the state as people started losing their jobs by the thousands, then thousands didn’t get their unemployment checks, or got them dramatically late, as ESD tried to figure out how to avoid further fraud.

Now that State Auditor Pat McCarthy’s criticism of LeVine for imposing “significant constraints” on audit staff, including seeking to limit interviews and delaying access to documents, have become public, the media has come to be all over this. And that media scrutiny is bound to move upward toward Inslee.

In June Brewer was told that her public disclosure request for the emails between Inslee and LeVine and between the ESD director and her staff, because of the mountain of documents involved, couldn’t be honored until December 31, almost seven months later. Some might chuckle at the point that would be after the November election, perhaps ensuring that Inslee’s quest for a third term couldn’t be hindered by anything in the emails.

In her lawsuit filed a couple of weeks ago in Thurston County Superior Court, Brewer asks for a court order that ESD “has violated the Public Records Act” and asks for “an award of statutory penalties, fees and costs against the Department.”

I asked Brewer why she filed the suit given the promised delivery date ESD and she said first, that the delay was illegal and, second, there was only the ESD statement that she couldn’t get the emails before December 31, not that she would get them then.

The lesson unlearned relates to the fact that Inslee has been here before, four years ago with a different department, Labor and Industries, in a public disclosure request by the Seattle Times, in which it took The Times months to get the documents it sought.

In that 2016 decision, the state high court upheld a $546,509 superior court judgment against L&I, finding that it repeatedly delayed the release of records related to lead exposure at Wade’s Eastside Gun Shop.

The department, meaning the state, was ordered to pay the money to The Times, plus attorney fees because monetary penalties are possible under state law for the failure of agencies to respond to public disclosure requests in a timely manner.

The Times was moved to muse editorially after that 2016 victory: “The remaining questions are whether Gov. Jay Inslee will hold anyone accountable for this costly violation of state law and how the state will prevent this from happening again.”

For a longtime reporter, there’s a disappointment that this story has eluded the media for months, except for a drip here and a drop there, until McCarthy’s statements brought the media attention on LeVine and her agency, but not yet on the governor, into full force.

So now perhaps some reporter will ask Inslee: “Governor, when did you know about the auditor’s concerns and when you learned, why didn’t you say to your ESD commissioner, ‘get your act together, Suzie or you are gone?’”

It’s important to keep in mind that we are talking here about a prominent Democratic fundraiser since LeVine raised millions for every Democratic presidential candidate starting with Obama and extending through the candidates who ran in 2020.
And in fairness to the media, both print and broadcast, the coverage requirements of 2020 from the virus to the marches and riots to the economy to the tragic stories of the jobless left little space or time available for an investigative look at why the jobless disaster was unfolding.

I may benefit from having known Brewer for more than a decade, first as she gained prominence in the wake of the collapse of Enron. Her book Confessions of an Enron Executive: A Whistleblower’s Story chronicled her experiences and observations during her two-and-a-half years as a mid-level executive. Her duties included providing key personal briefings on new investments for Enron's now-infamous duo, CEO Ken Lay and President Jeff Skilling.

So she reached out to me after her husband’s and her request for unemployment got caught up in the ESD tangled web and I did a column in the spring and waited for other media to get on the story.

Lynn BrewerLynn BrewerAnd it’s important to note that, as is sometimes, unfortunately, the case these days, Brewer is not some rightwing agitator trying to get Inslee, whom she says she voted for twice, "but not this time because he's responsible for what happened to the unemployed."

In fact, she’s spent her years since leaving Enron after she became aware of the malfeasance of its leadership, speaking to groups and organizations around the world. Brewer was called upon not only to recount the lessons of her Enron experience but more importantly to her, is to share her vision of a way that provides the equivalent of a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" on the integrity of public companies.

And it’s with a combination of amusement and anger that Brewer notes the irony of last week’s anniversary of the 2001 fall of Enron when it went out of business as its financial illegalities were disclosed.

“This is a bigger disaster than Enron,” she told me. “Enron was a $600-million fraud on its shareholders. This is a $650-million fraud on taxpayers.”

“If the court decides there will be a per-page, per day, fine and ESD indicates there are tens of thousands of pages that had to be processed, you do the math,” said Brewer. “The state could be liable for millions of dollars because no one was in charge of this.”

 
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BYU star quarterback Zach Wilson's family as important as his stardom

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This began as a story of a young football star from Utah named Zach Wilson who, because his intense love of family matches his intense love of competition, decided that the scholarship he would accept of 18 offered was one that would allow him to come home for dinner most Sundays.

But as the story of the BYU quarterback star’s rise toward the top rung of national collegiate football fame begins to make its way across the country, it will hopefully bring with it the equally special story of his team of young men who understand their place in society extends well beyond the football field.

Wilson was already committed to Boise State from among offers from schools around the country before he decided, at the end of a four-hour conversation he and his mom, Lisa, and dad, Mike, had with head coach Kilani Sitaki to accept a scholarship to Brigham Young University.

As the four-hour meeting ended, coach Sitake, a one-time starting fullback at BYU and the first Tongan to become a college head coach (likely another good story!) made one final pitch.

“Zach, you can drive home every Sunday night and have dinner with your family.” Offered Sitaki, knowing Wilson’s home was in Draper, about 18 miles from BYU in Provo.

Zach is just a home kid,” explained Lisa. “He wanted to be home for Sunday dinners. He wanted to be home for Tuesday night dinners when his beloved grandparents have a standing invitation. He wanted his family to be able to see him play.”

But part of the shared family love was the acceptance by the broader family, all lifelong University of Utah alumni, fans, ticketholders— Wilson’s parents had seats adjacent to Utah coach Kyle Whittingham’s family on the 50-yard line—of Zach playing for the hated BYU Cougars. Wittingham had been prevented from offering Zach a scholarship because of a promise to his top quarterback choice from Southern California.

And the reason I know of this story is because of that “beloved” grandpa, Lisa’s father, is my longtime UPI colleague as western executives for the wire service and friend for decades, Gary Neeleman, whom I have written about (search Flynn's Harp: Gary Neeleman) because of his own prominence as perhaps Brazil’s most honored American and author of books on that nation’s history.

But for Wilson’s touching personal story, and the equally touching one of his teammates, to garner national attention there had to first be an attention-getting sports story, as in Wilson’s performance in guiding BYU to an 8-0 record this year, including Friday’s 51-17 blowout of 21st ranked Boise State.

That national attention for Wilson, a junior, is coming to include suggestion from a growing number of observers that he’s a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy, college football’s most cherished honor.

And the manner in which the team runs onto the field with Zach carrying the American flag and brother Josh, a freshman linebacker who chose BYU because he wanted to make sure he played with his brother, carrying the Utah flag is also drawing attention.

Thus to the story of his teammates whose focus beyond sports is deserving national attention as well, a group of young men, many of them, like Zach, Mormons playing for the university-owned and operated by the Mormon church, the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

With the surge of comments and actions from athletes on the field and off in the wake of social unrest and awakening, particularly this past year, the BYU team felt it also needed to send a message.

At a mid-summer meeting, junior wide receiver Dan Milne explained, “We had an open forum about what we thought should be the message. We really tried hard to make it a message that was not controversial at all, and someone mentioned ‘love one another,’” a teaching of Jesus Christ that resonates deeply with members of The Church.”

So for its opening game against Navy, the team unveiled T-shirts that they’ve worn in pre-game warmups all season that say in black letters “We Are One” on the front and “Love One Another” on the back.

Then the players learned of things like licensing of the shirts and have sold them and raised money to go toward scholarships for needy kids. And it could become a most sought-after T-shirt once the story of it spreads across the land.

As to Zach’s leadership of this team, one who knows him remarked: “Inside roils a restless, steely determination to excel at his chosen craft, which often keeps him up late at night studying videos on his iPad instead of sleeping.”

But Wilson may also be driven in part by the Neeleman DNA.

Zach’s uncle David Neeleman earned fame as an airline industry innovator, founding Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue Airlines, and Azul Brazilian Airlines and being part owner of Portugal’s national airline. He is waiting for COVID to end before launching his new airline, Breeze, that will be based in Salt Lake City.

Uncle Stephen Neeleman, who attended Utah State on a football scholarship and was an Academic All-American and USU Man of the Year, went to medical school and became the head of trauma surgery at American Fork Hospital. But prompted by his dislike of the medical insurance industry, he started HealthEquity, the country’s first and largest health savings account company that is basically a 401(k) for paying health costs.

His aunt Julie manages the family’s 10,000-acre Zion Ponderosa Resort that abuts Zion National Park and is ranked among the best family retreats in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report.

The patriarch and matriarch of this dynamic Neeleman clan are Gary and Rose Neeleman, who have been married 62 years and preside over seven children, 36 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren. “They are the glue that holds it all together,” says Zach.

They are both 85, as of Rose’s birthday last Saturday, and still working. Brazil, their second homeland, offered Gary a job 20 years ago as an honorary consul for the 20,000 Brazilians who live in the Intermountain West. Gary told me he has just committed to another three-year term for the country he and Rose have visited every year since 1964. Until this coronavirus year,

A couple of notes about Gary’s ties to what he proudly notes is the second-largest nation in the Americas, in both land mass and population, a nation he first got to know in his youth as a Mormon missionary then for a decade as UPI’s manager for Brazil.

He’s written three books on parts of Brazil’s history, the last one several years ago won recognition as the best non-fiction work in Latin America.

After he returned with UPI to Salt Lake City, he set up annual trips for college all-star basketball teams, including 1979 national champion Michigan State and its star, Magic Johnson, to play games around Brazil and offer coaching help to local players. For a decade he was a luncheon speaker at the NCAA Final

In 2015 he received an unusual honor as the fourth recipient of an award whose English translation is Citizen of Sao Paulo. The three other recipients of the honor named for the State of Sao Paulo were the Pope, the Dalai Lama, and the founder of the Mormon Church in Brazil.

But back to Zach, whose family, filled with ardent University of Utah fans, came around to the idea that one of their own would wear the BYU blue and white. They were singing Christmas carols at a Neeleman family party after he had made his decision when suddenly, all of them — Neeleman uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents — broke out with the Cougar fight song.

They were telling Zach they were behind him if that was the school he chose. He soon signed with BYU and at a subsequent holiday party with family, he put his arm around his grandfather’s shoulder and, looking at the noisy crowded room, said, “Grandpa, you know why I chose BYU? This is why.”

 
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