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

FlynnsHarp logo 042016

Stephen Vella: turns around airlines, creates flying mansions

Stephen Vella, a congenial Brit who spent his career building airlines before turning his attention to creating flying mansions for the global elite, is the man whose Kestrel Aviation Management oversaw creation of the first VIP interior on a 787-8 Dreamliner.

The first VVIP outfitted BBJ, as its officially referred to, has gotten global visibility for those who partnered with Vella’s company, which had turnkey responsibility for the project from purchase of the plane to planning and design of the special interior to meet the requirements of the Asian client who will operate the aircraft. The partners included Greenpoint Technologies of Kirkland and Pierrejean Design Studio of Paris.

The specially outfitted Dreamliner is back in Moses Lake, where the work to install the unique interior was done, as it awaits final signoff by the FAA and final closing of the sale to an undisclosed owner.

“Undisclosed owner” is the usual description of individuals, countries or companies who decide they wish to own a castle in the sky and contract with Vella and Kestrel to manage the purchase, design and delivery of the aircraft. Nohl Martin, Vella’s vice president for business development and communications, says outfitting the special interiors can cost as much as the airplane itself with the finished product, once the widebody is aloft, sometimes described by buyers as airborne oases of peace.

But these are oases that are reserved for the elite, both in stature and resources, and the fact they seek out Vella has made him a valued relationship for Boeing, but also for Airbus, since the contract for design and implementation of one of these widebody interiors begins with the purchase of the plane itself.

I had an opportunity recently to interview Vella while he his partner Martin, a longtime friend of mine, were on a visit to Kirkland, where she has family.

The Dreamliner, representing the first conversion of a composite and nearly all-electric aircraft to incorporate a high-end cabin and thus requiring virtually the entire focus of the Kestrel team for the past two years, is the 11th widebody conversion that Vella’s team has managed from purchase through entry into service. The company has also done 10 narrowbody VVIP cabin conversions.

But as communications vice president Martin points out: “Sadly it is a sector that rarely allows us to publicize our work -- until this 787 project.”

Visibility was not a problem for Vella when he was turning around airlines, particularly the nearly 15 years he spent helping turn Qatar Airways from a struggling, five-plane regional airline into one of the handful of the world’s Five Star airlines.

When Akbar Al Baker, Qatar’s group chief executive, was tapped by the Qatar government in  1997 to take over the failing airline, he contracted with Vella, who functioned for the next 15 years as basically the airline’s COO, doing the long-term planning, fleet management, overseeing brand development as well as mergers and acquisitions.

By early this decade, Qatar Airways was operating 150 planes with another 200 on order, producing billions of dollars in sales for Boeing, but also for Airbus since the fleet, Vella estimates, is about half from each manufacturer.

Vella, 62, is a native of Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territory at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, and he explains that, despite being a citizen of the United Kingdom, Spanish is his first language.

His upbringing in Gibraltar and his fluency in Spanish, along with a healthy dose of self confidence, allowed him to build his reputation in the airline-turnaround business early.

He recalls that he was still in college when he took time off to visit with an official the prime minister back in Gibraltar and convinced him to grant Vella a Masters scholarship in return for assisting the City architect in redesigning the airport terminal.

After graduation, he approached executives of British Caledonia and pitched that the fact he was bilingual would allow him to launch the airline’s Latin America routes.

He recalled with a chuckle that the pitch allowed him to land a job at a time when there were no jobs to be had and while he worked for peanuts, he was able to see the world.

By his early 30s he had become general manager of British Caledonia’s fleet management division, but at that point left to start his aviation consulting firm and early on helped Richard Branson acquire his first 747.

Vella has turned around eight airlines, including Qatar and the Spanish airline Air Nostrum, a Iberia affiliate, which is now the largest regional carrier in Europe, and started several airplane leasing companies, including one for Rupert Murdoch.

I asked Vella to give me a sense of what he thinks the future holds for the industry and he offered a couple of predictions. One, Asia is a fertile field for new airlines to come into existence. And he suggests that in this county we’ll see consolidation bring the industry down to four large airlines. He declined to name those he thinks will compose the final field of four.

 

Continue reading

Huntsman World /Senior Games turns 30 this October

Jon Huntsman Sr.’s vision of creating an event that would attract hundreds of seniors to Southern Utah annually to engage in competition with each other in what he named the World Senior Games has become, over three decades, likely the most successful event of its kind in …well…the world.

Fulfillment of the prominent Utah businessman-philanthropist’s conviction that seniors could be lured to a remote but appealing corner of the West to demonstrate that their competitiveness remained strong despite advancing years will be played out again this fall for the 30th time.

Thus the City of St. George, along with officials and volunteers of the event itself, prepare to entertain almost 11,000 seniors during the first two weeks of October with athletes from every state and many nations. In fact, as Michelle Graves, Director of Sponsor Relations for the Games, emailed me: “Our goal this year is to host 10,950 athletes, which is the number of days in 30 years,” a goal only 400 ahead of the participant total for last year. “We also hope to host 30 nations, one for each year.”

I am registered again this October to be among the competitor in the 100 meters, against other “old guys” of my age (competition in all events is on the basis of five-year increments, as in 50-54 on up). But in addition to track and field, others of the thousands on hand will be participating in events ranging from archery, badminton and basketball to cycling, tennis, swimming and softballr.

The appellation “World” that Huntsman’s marketing acumen attached to the games’ name has, without doubt, been a key attraction for seniors willing to travel to a spot that you don’t get to easily so they can have the satisfaction of competing with the best of peers of their age.

I don’t know whether the intent of Huntsman and his wife, Karen, in their commitment to these games was because of the goodwill it has obviously fostered or economic development for the picturesque region known as “Color Country,” or “Red Rock Country.”

But the fact is both have occurred. The population of St. George was about 25,000 when the games were first held and has now grown to more than three times that at just over 80,000.

As long-time readers of the Harp are likely aware, participating in these games has held an appeal for me since I first learned of them in 2002, wanted to be a part of something called “World” games,  and came to run in the 100 meters and 200 meter events a year later, to my surprise finishing sixth in the 100.

It’s what attracted me back in 2011 after colon cancer surgery, needing to prove something to myself, and was amazed to finish third in the 100 meters in the 70-74 group. And again last year, when I finished second in 75-79 100-meter runners.

These games are a success story that Huntsman himself, now 79, probably couldn’t have envisioned. And except for those aware of Huntsman’s life of giving and caring, people might well be surprised that a multibillionaire who was in the process of building the world’s largest chemical company of its kind and developing a noted cancer hospital in Salt Lake City would have the time or interest to worry about it.

This Harp is, in fact, as much about a regard I have for Huntsman, whom I have never met, as the regard I have held for more than a dozen years for the annual gathering of senior athletes he has been committed to fostering and supporting, making it possible for me and others to test ourselves in peer competition.

A person like Huntsman is particularly important at a time when anger and hostility seem to have become what too many people bring to interactions with each other, rather than goodwill and regard.

Huntsman, a leader in his Mormon church, is a two-time cancer survivor who founded an institute with the goal of curing the disease and dispenses his substantial wealth to an array of causes, in addition to having taken the Giving Pledge, the promise taken by the world’s richest people to give away more than half of their wealth.

Huntsman’s philanthropic giving now exceeds $1.2 billion but he suggests he has a long way to go since his stated intent is to give all his wealth away.

Huntsman is wont to sum up his view of the non-giving wealthy thusly: "The people I particularly dislike are those who say 'I'm going to leave it in my will.' What they're really saying is 'If I could live forever, I wouldn't give any of it away.'

Continue reading

Naturopath Laurie Mischley's focus on intranasal treatment of Parkinson's

Laurie Mischley is a naturopathic physician at Bastyr University whose years-long research seeking to change the course of Parkinson’s Disease has quietly attracted both national and internatonal interest.

And now the results of two recent research projects relating to her focus on the relationship of glutathione(GSH) to the disease and her intranasal approach to treatment are likely to mean interest in her work will extend beyond academia and foundations into mainstream awareness.

The most recent was publication this week of her research findings from a project funded with a grant from Michael J. fox Foundation that, in essence, glutathione provides a “marker” for Parkinson’s Disease.

The study results showed that the lower the blood glutathione the worse the Parkinson’s, meaning, meaning that testing for low blood GSM might be a signal for the presence of Parkinson’s Disease.

“In essence, we can say now that the absence of glutathione leaves the brain on fire and it will be consumed unless the GSH is restored,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a marker, not unlike cholesterol level and heart disease, that we could modulate rather than simply watching the disease progress?”

The other recent development was a team project, with Mischley as lead investigator working with scientists from Washington State University, that determined, through use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), that glutathione had reached the brain and how to measure it.

Glutathione, called by some “the mother of all antioxidants” and “the master detoxifier,” prevents damage to important cellular components. The body makes its own but its depletion is known to relate to an array of neuro/pshyche diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

“People have been suggesting for more than three decades that glutathione deficiency plays a role in diseases of the brain and central nervous system that finding a way to augment it might be a good idea,” Mischley said. “What we just demonstrated is that squirting it up your nose works to raise brain levels of GSH.”

Explaining the study, Mischley said it showed a boost of almost 250 percent in the  glutathione in the brain after 45-to-60 minutes.

”Our results showed that all groups improved over the three months of use, including placebo, enough to warrant further study of glutathione for both symptom management and disease modification,” Mischley said.

Left for a follow-up study, which she said “ideally will be off the ground by the end of the year,” is determining issues like whether the glutathione level continue to rise? How long before it peaks? What happens following multiple doses?

Mischley returned at the end of June from the 20th International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease & Movement Disorders in Berlin where her research into the intranasal delivery of glutathione for Parkinson’s patients was given high visibility.

The challenge Mischley talks about candidly is frustration about making the glutathione therapy, intranasal injections of it on a regular basis, available to PD patients, “the formula and delivery need to be improved and partnerships with industry forged.”

“If we had a company to accelerate the research, I sincerely believe we could have the first disease-modifying therapy for PD available in 3-5 years, if cards are played correctly,” Mischley said.

“I came into this years ago to cure Parkinson’s,” she said. “I ndver thought of starting a pharma company, “But the fact is the way I need to proceed if I am to serve my patients and prospective patients is to start one.”

Mischley, 42, was in pre-med studies at Penn State University in the mid-‘90s, assuming that medical school lay ahead when she decided to switch her major to nutrition.

“I was told nutrition is not a science,” she said. “That was my reality check in what I was up against. It was like I was more interested in being a detective trying to solve a mystery and conventional medicine knowing what it is and hiding it.”

Her focus on nutritional medicine and now on Parkinson’s Disease is in line with her philosophy that “if people don’t wonder, they can’t learn. You have to be able to incite curiosity.”

In seeking out a place to study nutritional medicine, she says she found Bastyr had d the only nutritional medicine program, so she came to the campus of what has become the Harvard of naturopathic medicine and got her degree as a naturopathic doctor, and subsequently a PhD and masters of public health at University of Washington.

In 2010 she was awarded a five-year, $500,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, one of three researchers in the country to receive what was described as a career-transition award, explaining “they thought it was a good idea to train individuals with a clinical doctorate in complementary/ alternative medicine to do research.”

Her research with glutathione and intranasal delivery is helping spur the growing focus on intranasal delivery of drugs destined to address neurological disorders from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to chronic pain and migraine. 

In fact, that increasing medical interest in intranasal delivery for drugs focused on disorders of the brain and central nervous system is attracting key angel-investor interest to a rapidly growing Seattle company that makes intranasal devices.

Impel NeuroPharma, which Mischley describes as being “at the top of the food chain” for manufacture of intranasal devices, has already raised millions and scould be key to creating a new biotech category, maybe called drug delivery technology,  for which this area could be at the forefront.

Thus Impel and its co-founder and CEO, Michael Hite, will be the focus of next week’s Flynn’s Harp.

 

Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 



Continue reading

Oregon ballot measure would dramatically boost business taxes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Seattle investor friends focus on 'The Holy Grail of Energy' train project

The six-year-long commitment by two successful Seattle-area businessmen to sustain the alternative-energy breakthrough technology that one of them describes as "the holy grail of energy" is close to paying off. The story of their commitment to develop the technology owned by their company named Advanced Rail Energy Storage LLC (ARES) is as intriguing as that of the business itself.

ARES' launch project is a rock-laden train of special electric cars that would run up and down a long hill in the Nevada desert near Pahrump, 60 miles west of Las Vegas, to demonstrate on-demand delivery of electricity. The $55 million, 50 megawatt project is gathering interest from utilities across the county as it moves into final funding phase, fulfilling the vision of investor friends Art Harrigan, a respected attorney, and Spike Anderson, successful businessman who describes himself as a serial investor.

The two have partnered since 2010 to provide the majority of the funding for planning and preparation for ARES and its ARES Nevada project's launch, which is planned for spring of 2017 with completion expected by spring or early summer of 2018.

Now they are in the final fund-raising push for the last $15 million of equity and $15 million of debt necessary to cap the $25 million already committed and begin construction on a six-mile long track with 7.5 percent grade on 43 leased acres of BLM land

ARES Nevada will be the prototype for future projects elsewhere in the country. The Nevada project is smaller (able to fully discharge for a period of 15 minutes at 50 megawatts) than future projects are likely to be, though William Peitzke, the company's director of technology development, notes it will be "the largest energy regulation management project ever in the West."

As word of the planned Nevada project has spread, a number of utilities have reached out to the leaders of ARES, who invited about 30 representatives of utilities and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to a March 1 demonstration of a functioning scale model.

The gathering at the quarter-scale, proof-of-concept project in Tehachapi, in the mountains east of Bakersfield, CA. prompted EPRI representatives to announce to the assembled utilities people that they would develop an EPRI demonstration project and seek funding from member companies.

Since then, the ARES project has attracted media attention from the likes of Forbes and Fortune and, in recent days, from a newspaper in Finland.

Part of the interest generated in ARES, which is a company headquartered in Santa Barbara with its initial project incorporated as ARES Nevada, is due partly to the quality of the management team Anderson and Harrigan have attracted. The CEO is James Kelly, who for almost four decades was a key executive at Southern California Edison, and the executive vice president is Steve Sullivan, who worked with Kelly at Southern Cal Edison and guided many of his projects there.

But given that the two principal funders of ARES have not sought to put themselves in the limelight on this project, despite the fact they were largely responsible for generating the $15 million necessary to reach this point and attract this management team, ARES has not gotten the extended visibility it might need for the closing rush to funding.

But that will likely change as media, both nationally and locally in Washington State, begin to focus on the principal investors because their past successes in business amount, in the minds of many potential investors, to an imprimatur of likely success of their projects.

I've written recently about Harrigan, who is chairman of the ARES board, relating to his legal involvement setting the stage for Seattle's two major league sports teams to be saved and brought under local ownership. But he was also closely involved with Craig McCaw's Eagle River, formed after the sale of McCaw Cellular to AT&T. And he provided the legal guidance that gave birth to Nextel Partners, one of the nation/s largest cellular companies in the late 1990s, was involved in setting up Nextel's IPO and served on its board.

Anderson, whose career in sales and marketing included building one of the most successful reps firms on the West Coast then co-owning and eventually merging his firm, by then Anderson-Daymon, and building Costco's largest supplier of goods and services. Recently he founded, is funding and acting aa CEO for Clean Global Energy, a Bakersfield-based firm developing a process its website describes as "redefining oil separation in a better, cleaner way."

Part of the emerging visibility for Harrigan and Anderson was a letter Anderson recently sent to prospective investors explaining the project in detail and soliciting investors for the final $15 million of equity needed to get ARES Nevada project underway.

Anderson explained, in the extensive narrative on the project to the audience of more-than-qualified investors, that he would take the investing lead in the project with $10 million of the amount needed to complete it.

"We believe we can raise $15 million in debt, and will offer the remaining balance on the exact terms of my personal investment," Anderson explained, adding that "we believe that we can achieve close to a 25 per cent return on equity with ARES Nevada over the next few years "

"By running a train up and down a hill, ARES can help utilities add and subtract power from their grid on demand," Anderson explained in his letter. "A 19th century solution for a 21st century problem, assisted by that abundant natural resource called gravity."

And inevitably, the image of a train loaded with boulders running up a hill has spurred the metaphor of Sisyphus, the king from Greek mythology who was punished by the gods by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action for eternity.

Of course the Sisyphus image is flawed because the boulder being forced back downhill highlighted Sisyphus's forever failure whereas the trains loaded with boulders imbedded in sand rolling down the hill will exemplify the success of the ARES project.

Anderson explained that Shuttle trains, referred to as modules that are each made up of two electric locomotives and multiple weighted cars, will go up or down the track to either take electricity off the grid on the ascent or supply electricity to the grid by descending.

An example of the fact the Nevada project is on the small side of possible ARES projects, Harrigan and Anderson note that ARES can scale up to 3,000 megawatt, which would be a project as big as some hydroelectric projects. And Anderson noted that "the scope of the Nevada permit also allows for construction of a much larger system for an energy storage facility as well, essentially expanding the 50 MW system to add a 300 MW storage."

Said Anderson is his letter to prospective investors: The real problem we are addressing is providing an answer to the question of how do we generate more power since we can't build more dams, states are not permitting for fossil-fuel power generation and nuclear is enormously expensive."

Kelly suggests that a large part of the likely ARES appeal to investors and potential utility customers is that "ARES can be deployed at around half the cost of other available storage technologies and produces no emissions, burns no fuel, requires no water, does not use environmentally troubling materials. And it sits lightly on the land."

e ...

Continue reading

Stuart Anderson, cowboy-country icon, dies at 93

.

Stuart Anderson, with his 2,400-acre cattle ranch abutting the freeway in Central Washington and his signature mustache and cowboy hat, was the icon of cowboy country as he built what was regarded, in the 1980s, as the nation's most successful chain of affordable steakhouses. (It was actually dinner house chains but probably doesn't matter.)

Anderson, 93, passed away peacefully Monday at his Rancho Mirage home., surrounded by his family, including his beloved wife Helen, who was his partner for more than 40 years. He had been a diabetic for years but it was lung cancer that caused his death, though he had quit smoking in 1980.

Stuart Anderson founded his Black Angus/Cattle Company Restaurants chain in Seattle in the 1960s and from its corporate headquarters there he grew it into a chain of 122 restaurants spread across 19 states, with more than 10,000 employees and $230 million in annual revenue.

I felt compelled to come and talk to Stuart about his knowing he was in the final stages of life and that he was reconciled to that fact because he had led such a special life. It was filled with family, success, travel and, as Helen said, "lots of love." He had agreed to have me come down on Saturday to his home and work on his obituary together but that was not to be.

That became clear with the email Monday from Helen: "My wonderful, sweet, best friend Stuart has gone to that Mansion in the sky. He will be missed more than words can tell. He was larger than life and loved by so many. He was so pleased with the 93 wonderful years he had but said he was ready to go. Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes."

I first met Stuart four years ago when Betsy and I were vacationing in the desert. I had contracted with the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership to arrange a wine-and-cheese gathering of Northwest snowbirds to learn some business facts about their second home. The local Palm Springs Desert Sun publicized the event and as people visited, someone pointed out to me "there's Stuart Anderson," to which I responded: "I don't think so. I thought he was long gone."

So I went over to introduce myself to Stuart and Helen and learned that the guy with a weathered face and wearing a cowboy hat was much alive and provided an enjoyable get-to-know visit.

A couple of days later, I learned that he was actually going back into the restaurant business, reopening one of his first Black Angus restaurants, located in Rancho Mirage, (that had been forced to close and go out of business during the downturn) This is not really true. Someone came along to buy our lease which we gladly sold because of the downturn of the economy at that time. We were not forced to close.

So I produced a column about Helen and Stuart re-opening and running the restaurant, both of them visiting with customers and making the rounds each day for a number of months before it became clear that the challenge was too much for a man then nearly 90 who had been out of the business too long so gladly sold the lease.

I visited again four months ago with the Andersons at their Rancho Mirage condo, and found Stuart, who was speaking softly and slowly but retained the firm gaze he usually offered from beneath his cowboy hat. He wanted to talk about the book and the challenge of selling copies, compared to his first book. It is the story of how he built the restaurant empire that became a best-recognized national company. The book actually has a longer official title: "Corporate Cowboy. Stuart Anderson: How a maverick entrepreneur built Black Angus, America's #1 restaurant chain of the 1980s."

He first tried his hand as an author when in 1997 he produced "Here's the Beef! My Story of Beef," a book he described to me as "fun and informative," but most importantly to him, thousands of copies were sold in the Black Angus restaurants. The book was meant to be an answer to the highly popular Wendy's commercial of the time in which an elderly lady asks: "Where's the Beef?"

At that point it had been a decade since he had retired after five consecutive years of his restaurants being named the top steakhouse chain in the nation by USA Today in a poll by industry publication Restaurants & Institutions. He admitted candidly, in an interview we did a few years ago, that he decided to retire because the new owners took the fun out of his job.

At the time of his first book, he was still well-remembered, in Washington State in particular. He was often seen as a spokesperson for a series of television commercials he did in the Seattle area for a senior housing organization.

After retiring, he and Helen enjoyed their (You mentioned this in the 1st paragraph: 2,400 acre) ranch sprawled along Interstate 90 west of Ellensburg. He had bought the ranch in 1966 with the intent of raising the Black Angus cattle that would be served at his restaurants. But it turned out to be too great a challenge, for various reasons, so he continued to raise the cattle while buying his beef elsewhere, until he sold the ranch to Taiwanese interests, though to many travelers going past, it remains the Stuart Anderson ranch.

A private family gathering is being planned in Seattle but the celebration of life will be held in Rancho Mirage in November, which would have been his 94th birthday.

Continue reading

Entrepreneur of the Year event has become community entrepreneurship celebration

In the quarter century since national accounting firm Ernst & Young (now rebranded as EY) brought its Entrepreneur of the Year event to Seattle and the Northwest, the annual black tie gala has represented a community celebration of entrepreneurship. And with that has come a growing awareness of the importance of recognition for those struggling to build businesses and create jobs.

That increased awareness of the role visibility plays has brought with it an array of events, created by firms, organizations and media entities who want to own a piece of visibility value of their own for creating visibility for and thus developing relationships with young companies and the entrepreneurs who guide them.

Indeed all of those other recognition events have brought value to the startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem by allowing individual firms to attract the attention of potential investors and potential new talent.

But the EY event has remained the most prestigious gathering for entrepreneurs, as this year's select group of honorees preparing for the June 17 event at the Sheraton Hotel are coming to learn. Among other things, Northwest winner get to move forward to compete for recognition at the EoY national and world events later in the year with winning entrepreneurs from the 145 cities and 60 countries in which the EoY event is held.

As Dan Smith, managing partner of the Seattle EY office, put it:"We've recognized many remarkable leaders who have disrupted industries, created new product categories, and successfully brought new innovation and technology to traditional industries."

In fact three winners in the local event have gone on to win at the national level. They are David Giuliani, who as founder and CEO of Optiva, won in the manufacturing category in 1997; Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff, who won in the "services" category in 2013, and Zulily CEO Darrell Cavens, who won in the "emerging" category in 2014.

Smith notes that this year's finalists include 21 entrepreneurs from the life sciences, retail and technology industries, adding "we've definitely seen a lot of growth in these sectors compared to 30 years ago when the program started."

This annual Entrepreneur of the Year event has held a special attraction for me because of personal involvement, both before and since the event came to Seattle five years after Ernst & Young launched it in 1986 in Milwaukee.

Part of my regard for the event is having close connection to entrepreneurial honorees for this special recognition. The first was Kathryn Kelly, the president of a young Seattle firm ­­­called Environmental Toxicology, who was among those honored as finalists at the second event in Seattle in 1992.

Then came Pete Chase, CEO of Spokane-based Purcell Systems, who won in the communications category in 2006 and became a judge in the following three years, before guiding the sale or his company and launching a new company, Columbia International Finance, for whom I am doing some consulting.

And Leen Kawas, Ph.D., president and CEO of the promising young life science company M3 Biotechnology Inc., is a 30-year-old Jordanian woman who is among this year's honorees and whom I tout as changing the face of life sciences in this state. I have had the satisfaction of being an investor and providing introductions and visibility since she arrived at the helm of the fast-growing company in January of 2014.

The impact of the honor on the entrepreneurs nominated was evidenced by Kelly's reaction back then when I expressed my regret, having nominated her, for the fact she had been one of three finalists but had not won in her category.

"You have to be kidding! Just being here (including the video vignettes of each finalist shown before the envelope is opened and the winner disclosed) was the satisfaction of a lifetime," she said.

There is also a bit of amusement for me when I think of the Entrepreneur of the Year event in that as publisher of the Business Journal I was involved in two entrepreneur of the year events before Ernst & Young brought its event to Seattle.

That came about because Woody Howse, then a partner in the venture capital firm Cable & Howse Ventures, approached me about partnering in an event we named Entrepreneur of the Year, which we promoted and held in the mid-'80s to honor a single entrepreneur each year. It would be hard to top either of our honorees.

The first was W. Hunter Simpson, who had taken over defibrillator-manufacturer Physio-Control 20 years earlier and guided it into a global-leadership role in its industry. The next year we honored Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates, whose company was just then gathering momentum, having gone public a year earlier.

Cable & Howse, then the area's premier vemture capital, had a vested interest in creating visibility for entrepreneurs, as did the Business Journal. We were among many organizations then casting about to determine how best to serve those individuals who held the keys to our future.

In fact, some edginess on the part of the Ernst & Young Seattle leadership would have been appropriate at our having pre-empted Simpson and Gates as the two most impressive names in the local entrepreneur community at the time.

PSBJ and Cable & Howse partnered for several years thereafter with another accounting firm to stage a High Tech Entrepreneur of the Year event, before Ernst & Young Managing Partner Karl Guelich called me to let me know our party was over because the real thing was coming to Seattle.

Guelich had allowed us to go ahead without comment with a Seattle event using the E&Y copyrighted name, partly out of friendship and partly because he likely figured, as it turned out accurately, that our event might even lay visibility groundwork for the arrival of the official awards event of that name.

For perhaps a decade, the Business Journal was part of a process that represented a win for the firm, for the newspaper, and for the entrepreneurs as well. Ermst & Young always scheduled its event for a Thursday evening and provided all the advance detail needed for PSBJ to produce a special supplement with stories on the event and all the honorees, passed out to all attendees as a keepsake as they left the event and then it was inserted in the PSBJ copies that arrived in subscribers' mail the following day.

Since then some of the biggest names among regional entrepreneurs have been in the winners' limelight at the Northwest EoY. They included Mark Britton of Avvo, Jim Weber of Brooks Sports, Inc., Dara Khosrowshahi of Expedia, Inc., Gertrude and Timothy P. Boyle of Columbia Sportswear Company, Jeffrey P. Bezos of Amazon.com, Inc. and Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee Company.

So perhaps I'm prejudiced, but it seems clear that EY Managing partner Smith is accurate in suggesting that "the award has acquired a great deal of prestige, and is recognized around the world as an emblem of entrepreneurial success."

text here .

Continue reading

Arrival of federal crowdfunding gives start-up companies options

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Art Harrigan played legal role that helped save Seattle Mariners, Seahawks

..

The community thank you last week to former Sen. Slade Gorton for his instrumental role in saving major league baseball in Seattle was an appropriate reminder of his signal accomplishment for the community. But without detracting from Gorton's role, it may also be appropriate at some point to recognize the Seattle attorney whose legal victory set the stage for the search for a local owner.

That would seem particularly appropriate since the Seattle attorney, Arthur Harrigan Jr., had key legal roles in saving two of the Seattle professional sports franchises

Art Harrigan not only succeeded in forcing Mariners owner Jeff Smulyan to give business and community leaders four months to find a local buyer, but five years later he paved the way for a local sale of the Seattle Seahawks by preventing owner Ken Behring from moving the team to Los Angeles.

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

The venue for resolving the future of the Seattle Mariners franchise was what amounted to an arbitration hearing before Arthur Andersen, the national accounting firm agreed to by both sides to decide some key issues relating to the lease.

Since it wasn't a court process, which would have gotten large visibility for the battle between attorneys, Harrigan's maneuvering over the meaning of wording in Smulyan's contract regarding an attendance clause that was key to the final outcome was little noted, thus little remembered.

Harrigan's argued interpretation of the lease-requirement wording was accepted by the Andersen firm, so Smulyan was required to give an opportunity for a local buyer to be sought.

Of perhaps equal importance, Harrigan successfully argued that there should be a local value lower than the open-market value. The accounting firm agreed and set a "stay-in-Seattle" valuation at $100 million, rather than the national open-market value of $135 million that it had determined.

That created the opportunity for Gorton and others leading the effort to keep the team in Seattle to find a local buyer for $100 million, rather than $135 million, within four months.

No one knows if, at $135 million, Ninetendo's owner would have opted to pick up the cost of saving the Mariners for Seattle.

With respect to the effort to block the Seahawks' move, King County hired Harrigan's firm to keep Behring from fulfilling his widely publicized intent in the winter of 1996 to leave Seattle and move the team to Los Angeles.

Behring made the argument, after some tiles had fallen from the Kingdome roof, that he had concerns about seismic security of the facility as he announced that he was moving the team to Los Angeles.

Harrigan recalled the February meeting at the Woodmark Hotel at Carillon point at which he, King County Executive Gary Locke, Gary Locke, his assistant, and chief civil deputy Dick Holmquist with Behring's attorney, Ron Olson (who he noted was also Warren Buffet's attorney).

"Olson read from a yellow pad, explaining that the team, fearing earthquakes might impact the Kingdome, had to be moved to the comparative safety of Southern California and the Rose Bowl," Harrigan said. "Holmqust and I were trying not to laugh."

"We were poised to file a temporary restraining order the moment the trucks began rolling up to the team's offices in Kirkland," Harrigan said.

"So when Behring and Olson left the room, I made the call and the restraining order was filed," he added. "Had that not happened, we would have had to go to California and ask a California judge to send them back."

Behring had quickly, after the restraining order, filed suit in Kittitas County, so as part of the legal process, Harrigan also had to get the state Supreme Court to toss out that suit.

A few weeks later he and Behring attorneys met with NFL owners who were considering whether to allow the team to move, in the event Behring could escape the Kingdome lease, and made their presentations.

"I had brought Jon Magnusson and two other renowned structural engineers with West Coast seismic design expertise who explained that the idea that Southern California was safer than the Kingdome in case of earthquake was ludicrous," Harrigan said.

The legal maneuvering all came to an end when it was announced that Paul Allen had purchased the Seahawks.

While Harrigan, 72, is ranked as Seattle's top commercial trial lawyer by Chambers & Partners, which ranks the world's best lawyers and law firms, his legal activities have ranged well beyond the courtroom.

He worked with Craig McCaw in his early Eagle River Investments days, helped create the wireless company Nextel, which became a $7 billion public company, is a member of the boards of several public companies. His is chair, and was a principal fund raiser, for an interesting new company that will generate energy by storing electricity on trains.

Harrigan, a Harvard graduate with his law degree from Columbia, served as Senior Counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, worked on an investigation of CIA intelligence activities related to Vietnam.

Most intriguingly, and perhaps as important as his later pro sports involvements in Seattle, he headed the committee's investigation of IRS intelligence operations, discovering that the agency was giving individuals' tax returns, under the claim of national security, to other intelligence agencies who were then misusing the information in sting operations.

.

Continue reading

First Innovations in Education Award to Granger School District


The first "Innovations in Education" award will be presented this month to the little Yakima Valley school district of Granger where "Every Child, Every Seat, Every Day" became a mantra for students, teachers and parents that allowed the largely Hispanic district to achieve the best attendance in the state last year.

The Innovations in Education Award is being created by the Discovery Institute and will be presented to three women for their key roles in the attendance-success story of the Granger district, where almost a third of the students are from poverty-level homes.

The award will be presented May 19 at a dinner at the Rainier Club as part of the Discovery Institute's 25th anniversary. Presentation of the award will precede a panel discussion with three noted education-change advocates on the topic of "Creating a 21st Century Public Education System."

The women being honored with the award are:

--Alma Sanchez, mother of four, turned student at Heritage University, turned entrepreneur, who wrote and managed the grant for the attendance-incentive awards program at Granger Middle School.

--Janet Wheaton, recently retired Granger School District administrator, who worked with Sanchez and helped her with the application for the $20,000 grant that funded the incentive program, The "Every Child, Every Seat, Every Day" was the title of Sanchez' grant application to the Yakima Valley Community Foundation.

--Joan Wallace, Bellevue business woman who for more than a decade has helped focus attention on the needs of the families of Granger and created the district's relationship with Heritage.

Discovery Institute is presenting the award in partnership with the Seattle law firm of Patterson Buchanan, a leader in school-personnel legal issues, particularly the annual School law Conference. Bellevue developer and retailer Kemper Freeman, one of whose key focuses has been education since his years in the legislature in the 1970s, is the major sponsor.

To ensure wide visibility for the award this year, and to help guide nominations in future years, Sound Publishing and Q13 television will be media sponsors.

It was in a recent column detailing the dramatic turnaround in "chronic" absenteeism for the schools in Granger to 3.6 percent, more than four times better than the statewide average of 16 percent, that I suggested the achievement merited the attention of those seeking to bring change and educational enhancement to schools. In addition, perfect attendance to 21 percent from 3 percent the previous year.

Steve Buri, president of Discovery Institute, seized the opportunity of the May 19 dinner event and its focus on creating a school system for the current century to agree that the Granger accomplishment merited the first Innovations in Education Award and that the dinner was the appropriate venue.

Discovery Institute's American Center for Transforming Education works with state legislators, policymakers and those involved directly in education to promote systemic change to the nation's education system.

The motivation in Granger to create the attendance-incentive program was the nagging awareness for educators and parents there, as in every economically challenged area, that absenteeism is a key factor in kids failing to succeed in school as well as their becoming prime targets for gang recruitment.

Sanchez worked to create a belief among faculty and staff that full attendance was possible and put encouragement, support and incentives in place for students. She did that by putting together a year-end drawing for five iPads for students with perfect attendance and promoted the program with posters around school.

The year-end awards promotion was accompanied by signage proclaiming "every quarter you are in school every day you will receive fabulous prizes."

The motivation to recognize the achievement with the new Innovations in Education award was the realization on the part of Discovery Institute and the rest of the team of companies involved with the award that significant education change will only come if attention is focused on new ideas that are producing noteworthy change.

Wheaton said she was sure that going forward there will be an effort to measure academic results from the attendance improvement, but added last year already paid a dividend in that it"was the first in many years that the entire district met standard in all areas of the state bilingual test - the Washington English Language Proficiency Exam."

It's worth focusing on the fact that while the public education system is under challenge from forces seeking to bring about necessary changes to curriculum and structure, the Granger story is evidence that essential change can come about through new vision within the current system as well as from external forces.

The panel conversation I will be moderating following the award presentation May 19 event will feature:

--Don Nielsen, who served eight years on the Seattle School Board and has written a book called Every School that has gotten national attention:;

--Bob Hughes, a member of the state Board of Education and former Corporate Director of Education Relations for Boeing.

-- Paul T. Hill, founder of the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Research Professor at UW-Bothell, whose focus is on re-missioning states and school districts to promote school performance, school choice and innovation, finance and productivity; and improving rural schools.


Continue reading

Sanders' campaign reminds of 'Clean Gene's' presidential run in '68

For political junkies, old political writers being foremost among those, one of the recurring exercises is finding similarities between years-apart election campaigns. Thus this year's race for the Democratic nomination for president is offering such a comparison, particularly for those fond of fostering, or for some it's fearful of, the thought that history repeats itself.

With Donald Trump suddenly the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, there will be reach backs to campaigns and candidates of the past to which Trump's campaign this year will draw comparisons.

But the similarity I'm referring to in this case is between Sen. Bernie Sanders' intriguing quest of his party's nomination against an established party figure, Hillary Clinton, and Eugene McCarthy's quixotic campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1968.

McCarthy's campaign slogan of "Get clean for Gene" has become Sanders' "feel the Bern."

That '68 campaign in which McCarthy, a virtually unknown senator from Minnesota, forced Lyndon Johnson to withdraw from any re-election effort then sought to be his successor, will always be a vivid memory for me because it was the first presidential campaign I covered, as a young reporter for UPI.

A quick background for those to whom that 1968 campaign is merely a foggy recollection from a history class. The growing anger, particularly among the young, over the failing effort of the Vietnam War allowed a fed-up McCarthy to decide to run, almost match Johnson's total in the nation's first primary in New Hampshire, and thus caused Johnson to announce in a national television address that he would not seek another term.

Those angry against the war, largely young people who thought it was not only time to end what they viewed as an immoral campaign by their nation's leaders but also seeking broad change in the "Great Society" Johnson had created for their parents' generation, flocked to support McCarthy.

Sen. Robert Kennedy, brother of the slain president and viewed by many as heir apparent to John Kennedy's "Camelot," entered the campaign. For a handful of memorable months until Kennedy's assassination as he left the stage at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel following his victory in the California Primary, his campaign brought forth the unrest among minority groups and added those demanding social change to those seeking to end the war.

Kennedy' campaign actually was attracting some Democratic leaders and cementing delegates in each state, including in Washington State where Everest conqueror and Kennedy confidant Jim Whittaker was pinning down Kennedy delegates.

One of my favorite memories of covering parts of that campaign of nearly 50 years ago as a young political writer was a chance encounter at the 1968 Democratic state convention in Tacoma with a to-become-famous high school friend from Spokane.

Kitty Kelley was a spunky young woman for whom that presidential campaign would be the launch pad for a highly successful but controversy-punctuated career as a biographer of the rich and famous.

I glanced across the crowded hall and, seeing her for the first time in 10 years, I made my way through the crowd, said hello and asked her what she was doing there.

"I'm Gene McCarthy's press secretary," she said with a laugh.

"What the heck do you know about being a press secretary?" I asked.

"I decided I wanted to be one and did some research and found that two of the senators didn't have one," she responded. "So I picked McCarthy, made an appointment with him and told him I wanted to be his press secretary. He asked me 'what does a press secretary do?' and I told him we'd figure that out together. So I got the job."

So when McCarthy decided to emerge from relative anonymity and run for president, the campaign brought Kitty contact with political leaders and the prominent in society. Those contacts she made that spring and summer of '68 helped provide the exposure and experience that would allow her to launch her literary career.

I've watched with interest and amusement in the years since then as her ability to uncover long-hidden secrets and get the "ungettable" story on those about whom she produced a string of unauthorized biographies stirred the ire and criticism of the rich and famous and their friends.

Because she was an attractive blond woman with the name "Kitty," those stung by her tell-all biographies of Jackie Onassis Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Reagan, the British Royal Family and perhaps most famously, the Bush family, found it easy to dismiss the quality of her work.

Over the years, when controversy swirled around her work, I've smiled to myself to think back on that encounter in Tacoma with a young woman I'd known as a Spokane teenager who had used brains and guts as substitutes for experience and privilege to carve out a high-visibility career for herself.

She thus exemplified an army of young women who did likewise in that decade of the '60s and early '70s, creating important roles for themselves in what had been, prior to that, a "man's world," and opening the way for others of their gender to do the same.

But back to the '68 campaign.

Kennedy's death ensured that Democratic party leaders would gather in force behind Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who didn't run in the primaries but merely gathered the necessary state-by-state support from delegates and local party leaders. Thereafter the outcome of who would get the nomination was really never in doubt, except in the ranks of those young and minorities who had come to believe McCarthy's election was vital to the changes they had come to demand.

The battles in the streets of Chicago between McCarthy supporters and Mayor Richard Daley's police force as the Democratic Convention gave the nomination to Humphrey ensured that McCarthy's supporters would largely abandon the system and stay away from the November election.

In the end Nixon's razor-thin margin of victory made it clear to political analysts that those who decided not to vote ensured that the Democratic nominee would lose.

Fast forward 48 years to the Sanders campaign, which has attracted large numbers of those, particularly the young and new voters, who want out with the current social and political structure and flock to him as the instrument of change.

It's obvious to the Democratic party insiders and most elected leaders in the states that Sanders isn't going to win the party's nomination at this summer's convention. Thus Clinton, as much a part of Democratic establishment and tradition as was Humphrey, will head into the general election season hoping that history does not repeat itself, as in disaffected prospective voters giving the election to the Republican nominee by staying away from the polls on election day.

Enter your text here ...

Continue reading

Neeleman's books on Brazil point up importance of two-nations' ties

Enter you

USA Today's front-page feature last week on the 150th anniversary of the arrival in Brazil of the "Confederados" who fled the post-Civil War South to begin new lives there was a reminder of my column on the same topic last July.

But while that Flynn's Harp dealt with the fact there was one place the Confederate Stars and Bars would always be honored, despite the burgeoning outcry against the flag in this country, the column was really about my friend Gary Neeleman's chronicling of the only emigration in U.S. history.

I got some pushback from some readers of that column for the comment that the 40 years of research by Neeleman, and his wife,Rose, through aged documents, old letters and newspaper clippings, had led him to conclude that history, not racial hatred, and pride, not prejudice, were the driving force for those who moved to Brazil.

I suspect USA Today likely has gotten similar pushback for its gentle treatment of the descendants, including kids wearing baseball caps with the Confederate battle flag emblazoned on them, of those 7,000families in the 1866-67 migration,

Neeleman's book, is in the process of being published in Portuguese in Brazil with negotiations under way for a publishing in this country in English.

As Neeleman explains, many of the southerners were from the most prominent families in the South who established in Brazil the cities of Americana and Santa Barbara d'Oeste and whose descendants gather annually at the old cemetery near the cities to celebrate their heritage.

Neeleman's book on the Confederates is actually one of three he has written to bring to light little-known details of Brazil's history. One that deserves broader awareness is the story, unfortunately little-known in this country, that after the Japanese captured the Indonesian rubber fields that represented about 97 percent of the world's rubber production at that time, the U.S. and its allies would have had little chance to win World War II without Brazil.

Rubber Soldiers-the Forgotten Army that a Saved WWII, details how Franklin Roosevelt and Brazilian President Getulio Vargas agreed to send 55,000 tappers into the Amazon Jungle to tap rubber for the war effort and how 26,000 of themdied of jungle illnesses, wild animals, accidents, etc. during the four years of the war. The rubber they harvested was the bridge that won the war.

It would be appropriate, as relations between what Neeleman routinely refers to as "the two giants of the western hemisphere," ebb and flow, if the fact that the U.S. owes a debt to Brazil were part of our historical recollection.

Neeleman laments the lack of awareness of our two nations' ties but points to what he refers to as "a linguistic tomb" because Portuguese is a barrier to entry for those seeking to explore history, with most historians who are seeking Latin American material search the array of Spanish-language nations.

Neeleman, 82, among my closest of friends since we worked together as executives for United Press International in the 1970s, got his Brazilian exposure with UPI as manager there in the mid-1960s. He has been a believer since then of the ties that have existed between what he routinely evangelizes as "the two giants of the western hemisphere."

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.

Brazil recognizes his contribution and he has received a series of awards, including most recently being summoned by the Brazilian ambassador to Los Angeles a few days ago to receive the highest award that nation bestows, approved without his knowledge last summer by the National Congress of Brazil.

That award followed his receipt last summer for best non-fiction published in Latin America the prior year. That book, "Tracks in the Amazon," details the construction of a railroad through the jungle, at a cost of thousands of lives, to bring goods from Bolivia, down the Amazon to the coast. The golden spike marking completion, after 45 years, of what was known by various names, such as Devil's Railroad. Ghost Train and Mad Maria, was driven in 1912.

Last September he received an unusual honor as the fourth recipient of an award whose English translation is Citizen of Sao Paulo. Others who preceded him as 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.

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

I kid Neeleman that his most important contribution to Brazil is the fact that he and Rose are the parents of David Neeleman, Jet Blue Airlines founder and now founder and CEO of Azul, the Brazilian carrier that is among the fastest-growing airlines in the world with its expansion and acquisitions.

Referring to Gary and Rose's ability to avoid slowing down (and because of his diminished eyesight it's essential for Rose to keep pace, or maybe sometimes set the pace) son Stephen, an MD and founder of publicly traded HealthEquity, recently told them: "You and mom are sucking the very marrow out of the bones of life." Told of that comment, another son in Brazil added: "And now you're chewing on the bones."

r text here ...

Continue reading
Tags:

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

         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nter your text here ...

Continue reading
Tags:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Willingness to provide funding key to state's life sciences future

Although this state is home to a world class life sciences and biotech non-profit sector, Washington's Legislature seems to only toy with understanding that being competitive with other states in the quest for pre-eminence in that industry requires demonstrating a willingness to spend state dollars.

That's likely at least part of the reason for the strong bi-partisan support among the lawmakers for a bill that would have put in place the essential final piece of a cancer research fund: an administrative body to begin planning grants, accepting donations and basically letting the fund become operational.

But one of the issues left undone when the Legislature adjourned at the end of March was final action on the bill, HB2679, that would have consolidated the cancer-research fund that was born of a bold idea in the 2015 Legislature into the Life Science Discovery Fund (LSDF). Intriguingly the same legislature left LSDF without a future by defunding it.

The bill was approved overwhelmingly by the Democrat-controlled House and passed out of the Senate committee and sent to the Ways and Means Committee, which has to approve bills that carry an appropriation. The bill languished there in the final days and died with the end of the session.

The LSDF-related bill, sponsored primarily by Democratic Rep. Jeff Morris, was to create a new Center of Excellence for Life Science and Cancer Research, to be overseen by LSDF.

The cancer-research-fund bill itself is designed to provide $20 million a year for the next 10 years with $10 million to come from state funds that can be released only after commitment of a "non-state match" of $10 million. The lawmakers appropriated $5 million to launch the fund, called CARE, which needs a board to oversee it and a contract with a non-profit designated to administer it before it can actually go into effect and begin considering grants.

So the provisions of the legislation creating the cancer fund are still in place, waiting to be implemented, and in fact Gov. Jay Inslee is in the process of selecting the 13-member board required to be named by July 1, according to the legislation.

The LSDF bill died at the end of last session and would have to be introduced again in 2017, in the event Morris should decide to take another run at employing LSDF as administrative entity

A life sciences ecosystem is important for the state and an ecosystem is supported by numerous pillars. In Washington, the approach of the lawmakers has been to take down the pillars, specifically removing the state's R&D tax credit for life science firms and ending the funding for LSDF, which was created a decade ago to provide funding for life-science startups, both in research and in commercialization.

As former Gov. Christine Gregoire put it: "We are in fierce competition with other areas but, unfortunately, as a state, we have gone in the wrong direction by eliminating the research and development tax credit that supports early stage companies and defunding LSDF."

The cancer-research fund is viewed by the life sciences industry as restoring a pillar and all have indicated their support for the fund. But those life science leaders also share the view that the $10 million a year of state funds that it provides is merely a start, particularly given the support other states have stepped up to provide. What could be considered the other end of the state-support spectrum from Washington is Massachusetts, where a 10-year $1 billion dollar plan to support life sciences is now in place.

Gregoire, who as Washington's Attorney General led the fight that brought millions in tobacco money to the states then as governor led the effort to create LSDF as a vehicle to fund life science innovations, called the new cancer-research fund "an essential building block for a vibrant life sciences sector."

Gregoire, newly named to the board of The Hutch and thus soon to make her mark from inside the industry, addedwith respect to the cancer fund: "It can do a lot of good for our researchers and advance the work being done in areas where we have a unique advantage, including immunotherapy. The cancer research fund is just one part of it and the state needs to continue its targeted role or we risk losing our talent and the ability to bring cures to people faster."

Part of the pressure on the states has come about because of what had become, in recent years, a trend of NIH grants that have stayed fairly constant while purchasing power for those grants has declined yearly.

In fact, this state has always had a healthy share of NIH grants, totaling about $230 million the past fiscal year with $94.8 million to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute, $71.8 million to the University of Washington and $29.3 million for the Benaroya Research Institute.

As to LSDF itself, because it is currently managing nearly three dozen grants toward their completion, it will still be in operation, if greatly reduced in staff and perhaps board, by the time of the nest legislative session, so it remains as a possible experienced administrative body for the board now being appointed to contract with to guide the cancer fund.

Continue reading

Virgin deal should end business community concerns about Delta designs on Alaska

"We're viewing this as a combination that will make Alaska stronger and better positioned to remain a successful, independent, Seattle-based company for decades to come."

by Joe Sprague, Senior Vice PresidentCommunications & External Relations

There's no way of knowing the extent to which the shadow of Delta Airlines hung over Alaska Air Group's decision last fall to connect with Virgin America about a possible takeover.

But regardless, a local business community troubled for months that it needed to figure out how to help Alaska Airlines ward off what was perceived as a takeover effort by Delta Airlines can stop worrying. Alaska saved itself.

That's the underlying fact about the announcement last week that Alaska has agreed to buy Virgin America for $2.6 billion cash, with assumed debt, leases and other costs bringing the total to about $4 billion. That's a figure viewed by some experts as too much -- a huge premium that Alaska had to pay on Virgin's market valuation to beat out JetBlue to land the deal.

But it depends on what a company like Alaska is buying. And in Alaska's case, it's a twofer, or maybe a threefer, as it dramatically expands its California presence and keeps Jet Blue from acquiring Virgin's lucrative California routes. But maybe most importantly, it pretty much ends the concern about a Delta takeover strategy.

Concern over any Delta designs on Alaska should pass, if for no other reason than that the Justice Department wouldn't be likely to allow one of the Big Four carriers to buy number five, which is where the Virgin deal, once approved, would place Alaska.

That Justice Department point was offered by Joseph Shocken, president of Seattle's Broadmark Capital, when I asked him his thoughts after the Virgin announcement, since Shocken was perhaps the most outspoken business advocate of a "support Alaska" strategy over the past 18 months.

It was Shocken, whose business activity at his successful boutique merchant bank has made him somewhat of an expert on how mergers and acquisitions play out, who first reached out to me about "the business community needs to take sides and do so visibly against Delta."

I was receptive to Shocken's argument, and did several columns commencing with one that said Delta had turned from partner, which had been its relationship with Alaska, to predator.

The reaction of others I met with in the business community, not just in Seattle but across the state, after the first column indicated to me that Shocken wasn't merely crying wolf, particularly after a member of Alaska's board had confided "we're really worried."

So was the Delta issue a consideration for Alaska in its decision to approach Virgin America last fall about a sale?

Asked about that, Joe Sprague, Senior Vice PresidentCommunications & External Relations, said "We're viewing this as a combination that will make Alaska stronger and better positioned to remain a successful, independent, Seattle-based company for decades to come."

The deal still needs to pass through regulatory approval and as part of its information pack Alaska Airlines issued a timeline with the deal set to close January 1, 2017, and full integration by the first quarter of 2018.

The merge is likely to attract the scrutiny of Justice Department officials already pursuing allegations that America's biggest airlines have colluded to keep airfares high.

And since the takeover will mean California no longer will have an airline based in the state, which served as home to a variety of carriers over the decades, there may well be an effort to convince regulators it's not good for consumers.

For those who like a chuckle with their politics, it would amusing if Alaska-Virgin provided California's dynamic female Democratic duo in the U.S, Senate reason to clash for the first time with their Washington Senate Democrat counterparts.

But antitrust experts suggest the takeover of Virgin by Alaska probably will be seen by those federal regulators as a union that will better equip Alaska to compete against larger rivals.

And if the concern of Shocken and others who have watched the shrinkage of the airline industry by takeovers play out were legitimate, Alaska was destined to lose a battle with Delta so the prospect of an erosion of discount fares was bound to be an outcome, whether because if Alaska's growth or its decline.

The final piece of the Delta puzzle that needs to play out is the possible restoration of a Delta-Alaska partnership arrangement. The effort to achieve that is certainly a possibility with the retirement of Richard Anderson from the CEO role, since he was the key protagonist in the obvious beat-down-Alaska strategy. But since Anderson remains as executive chairman of the Delta board, he may still influence a Delta move to restore relations with Alaska, returning to partner instead of predator.

But the fact is any thoughts about that are not even on Alaska's agenda right now. 

Continue reading

Anna Liotta brings generational expertise to effort to save golf

Anna Liotta, who has become a national guru at unlocking generational codes, is taking her knowledge on the road, at the behest of the Professional Golfers Association, seeking to reinvigorate older generations as well as help provide clues on how to interest more millennials in the game.

As she heads for San Diego next month to meet with 100 golf-management professionals, she is aware that there's a sense among PGA executives who have watched the total rounds of golf played decline by 2 percent a year for the last decade, that what could be at stake is the very future of golf.

Asked how she became an expert on what makes different generations tick, the founder of Seattle-based Resultance Inc., smiles and responds that as the 18th of 19 children, she just paid attention at home, adding "I was immersed in a multi-generational world."

"Whenever there's a wedding, graduation or family gathering, my family has six generations that are represented," she added. "There are 300 first cousins, 56 nieces and nephews and 47 great nieces and great nephews."

Liotta, daughter of a PGA professional and recipient of a golf scholarship while a student, has had golf as a life-long focus and says she is thus pleased to have been tapped to try to restore some of the sport's lost luster by focusing on different strategies to employ with different generations.

She was the only keynoter at a Sports Diversity and Inclusion Symposium in September of 2014 and the PGA, whose turn it had been to host the annual event attended by executives of all professional sports, invited her to keynote their annual conference in Indianapolis two months later.

Following her presentation as the first-ever female keynoter on the national conference stage in the PGA's 98 years, the organization contracted with her to consult on how to attract more millennials, Gen Xers and women of all ages to the game of golf.

"I have been working with the PGA on developing programs and messaging to attract and retain new players as well as re-engage lapsed golfers across the generations." She said.

Liotta elaborates on the generational issues facing golf by ticking off the challenges by generation.

"For boomers, it's their life stage with retirement and health issues, Gen Xers are focused on young families and Millennials are not interested in investing as much time or money into the game as their parents." She explained.

Liotta's role includes strategy for attracting more women to golf and noted, in an interview, that drawing more women golfers poses the same challenges as addressing the array of generations.

"Attracting women across the generations to the game of golf is a mission-critical initiative for the golf industry," Liotta said. "More women than ever are interested in playing golf, but it's up to the golf professionals and facilities to win the right to have them return after their first experience."

"Boomer and Gen Xer women are at the peak of their career and have high expectations of their customer experience on the course but unfortunately, often they are disappointed," she continued. "Millennial women have grown up playing competitive sports and are ready to bring their athleticism to business golf, but millennials demand a whole new level of inclusion and service from golf, or they take their disposable income to the yoga studio, cross-fit gym, or soccer field."

Part of her commitment to bring more women to the game was her launch 12 years ago of Women Taking a Swing at Cancer, a fund-raising event she presided over for several before turning it over to Gilda's Club, which has changed its name to Cancer Pathways and whose support for the golf event faded.

Liotta recalls that as a university student, she encountered what for her was a life-shaping video titled "What you are now is where you were when."

"That 1989 experience shaped my research in my organizational development studies and I wrote my honors thesis on generations," she recalls.

"What continues to delight me is that the more you learn about the formative things of an individual, the more you know about them," she added.

Running down the generations Liotta said: "Baby boomers want to tell a lot about themselves while a Gen Xer wants to cut to the chase and get to the bottomline. They self disclose after demonstrated value."

Millennials, she said, "want to tell you about themselves first, and how unique they are, what they are up to and each thinks he or she is uniquely fascinating."

Because many view millennials (born between 1980 and 1999) as the most challenging generation in the workplace I asked Liotta to expand on their characteristics.

"They are changing workplace expectations forever, and driving their managers crazy in the process," she said. "They are the first generation to have no expectation of retiring from the company they are working for today."

"Millennials typically decide in their first 30 days whether they will remain with a company for six, 12, or 18 months," she added.

Liotta four years ago wrote what has become a key source of information about the generations. It's called "Unlocking generational codes: Understanding What Makes the Generations Tick and What Ticks Them Off."

ter your text here ...

Continue reading

Granger schools create model that deserves attention

 The search for education innovations that represent steps toward excellence is a challenging process at best, and one that seldom includes schools in underprivileged areas or those with large minority enrollment. 
 
Thus the dramatic turnaround in absenteeism for the schools in the Yakima Valley community of Granger to achieve the lowest incidence of chronic absenteeism in the state merits the attention of those seeking to bring change and educational enhancement to schools. After all, this is a district where nearly 85 percent of the students are Hispanic and a third of the families live below the poverty level.
 
Continue reading

McKibbon's plane-crash death left hole for Vancouver community he focused on


The divisiveness that seems to be the legacy these days of any discussion of issues, local or national, was something that longtime Vancouver community leader John McKibbin had a way of averting as he steered discussions toward productive dialogue, even in the face of some significant opposition.

Thus when McKibbin, 69, a Clark County elected official turned civic leader, died last week in the crash of his World War II-era single-engine plane near the mouth of the Columbia River, the loss was not just a personal tragedy for his family and friends. It was also a loss for the city and region he constantly strived to enhance.

The complexity of the issues on which McKibbin was working to create positive outcomes indicates the depth of the hole he left for Vancouver, Clark County and the state to find a way to fill.

Two issues stood out, and were to have been the focus of a breakfast meeting I had scheduled this past Monday with McKibbin and Don Brunell, the retired president of Association of Washington Business, who was McKibbin's longtime friend and associate.

Instead the breakfast became Brunell's sad opportunity to reflect for me on the man who had been elected to the Washington State Legislature in 1974, when he was not yet 30 years old, was elected a Clark County commissioner four years later and served three terms before he turned his focus to business.

"He brought people from opposite poles together, not always achieving agreement but to at least having an understanding of the other side's position," said Brunell, who had been McKibbin's friend since he joined Crown Zellerbach in 1979 as McKibbin was preparing to leave the legislature and run for county commissioner.

"He has been a good friend since then," Brunell said. "He was a problem solver who was gracious to his opponents as well as supporters. He had great political instincts. He worked issue by issue and had the ability to scope out an issue and try to reach resolution."

"When it came down to a divisive issue, he never personalized differences," added Brunell, who since retiring from AWB has been a Vancouver resident and writes a regular column on business and government, with the likelihood he will devote a column to McKibbin once he works through the loss of his friend and associate.

McKibbin was president of Identity Clark County at the time of his death, ironically while returning on a flight out past the mouth of the Columbia with the wife of a deceased friend who wished to scatter her husband's ashes at sea. He had headed that business advocacy and economic-development organization for the past two years after having been the founding chair 20 years ago.

One of the major issues that had McKibbin's focus was the struggle to resurrect the Columbia River Crossing Project, an effort to build a new bridge to connect Portland and Vancouver, replacing the 99-year-old span and extending Portland light rail to Vancouver.

The project died two years ago after more than a decade of negotiations between the two states broke down over the issue of light rail for the new span. McKibbin was quietly working leaders in both states to get discussions going again.

But the issue perhaps closest to McKibbin's heart was the initiative to create a Pearson Field Aviation Education Complex at the oldest continuously active airport in the United States, where his hanger in which he kept the classic plane he and a friend had refurbished was a regular gathering place.

That education project was the topic for an earlier Vancouver breakfast meeting with McKibbin and Brunell.

The issue, which many see as a bizarre example of government overreach, is National Park Service pushback on the effort to use part of a 22-acre parcel once owned by the city of Vancouver but sold in 1971 to the NPS as the permanent location for the Pearson Air Museum.

The Air Museum had been housed on the property, which the agency had leased back to the city, and it had become a community events center and was intended to house the development of a STEM learning center as the focal point of an aviation education complex.

After an acceleration of disagreement with the NPS over the agency's sudden concern about non-park use of parks property, the federal agency took possession four years ago of the facility, and most of the exhibits and other assets and forced the move of a half dozen vintage airplanes, one of which was McKibbin's, to other locations.

The effort to develop a STEM-focused education center led to research that determined that some 40 aerospace-related firms were located in Clark County and that has led to an effort to create an aviation high school, following the model of Raisbeck Aviation High School in the Highline School District. That aviation- and aerospace-themed STEM school is one of the South Seattle district's small high schools.

The flap over what was basically the takeover of the facility by the local Park Service official turned political when GOP Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Butler took up the cause and introduced legislation to resolve the dispute, but nothing has so far come of that effort.

Creation of the Aviation Education Complex, a STEM education center and likely including an aviation high school to help serve the current and future needs of a growing aerospace cluster in Clark County, seems destined to eventually come about, either at Pearson Field or elsewhere, and will be a testament to McKibbin's leadership.

Continue reading

52°F

Seattle

Mostly Cloudy

Humidity: 63%

Wind: 14 mph

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