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updated 2:54 PM UTC, Jul 28, 2018

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Candy Bomber takes to the skies once more in Southern Utah at age 100

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It was 73 years ago that Gail S. Halvorsen was among the group of U.S. pilots whose airlift of food and other needs to thwart the Soviet blockade of West Berlin saved two million Germans from starvation. But his lasting fame came as the pilot who became known as The Berlin Candy Bomber for his parachute drops of gum and candy for the Berlin children, earning worldwide attention, including a half dozen books written about him.

Regina Lovely Gail HalvorsenRegina Lovely and Gail HalvorsenThe Soviet Union blockaded the allied part of post-war Berlin from June of 1948 ‘til the fall of 1949 in an attempt to take it away from the allies, but the food drops by Halvorsen and his fellow pilots thwarted that. Included among other food and supplies dropped came 21 tons of candy.

Forward to today. The life-long Utah resident, a retired Air Force colonel now almost 101, made another flight Saturday, participating in a candy-drop flyover in St, George as part of the Southern Utah city’s Independence Day celebration tribute to veterans.

His daughter, Marilyn Halvorsen Sorensen, told Salt Lake City TV station KSL she asked him” “are you up for one more?” and he replied “Only one more?”

So he boarded the passenger seat of a helicopter that flew over Dixie State University’s Greater Zion Stadium and dropped bunches of candy onto the crowd.

Among those on hand to honor the Candy Bomber was Regina Lovely, a St. George resident who, as a then 3-year-old, was one of the first German children to receive candy from Halvorsen’s drops.

She credits Halvorsen with helping the people of Berlin find hope as she presented him with the inaugural Gail Halvorsen Lifetime Service Award, created by the organizers of the event.
“God Bless America,” he said to cheers from the hundreds gathered in the stadium.

His daughter, Marilyn, said “for me, this is a celebration of freedom. I just think it’s important for people to know his story because he talks about gratitude, attitude, service before self, helping other people, and saying small things make a difference.”

She says she hopes his story conveys the message of “just be kind to each other and help where you see a need.”

Halvorsen remembers the special honor he received five years ago when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir invited him to be honored at the tabernacle where the assembled crowd burst into applause as tiny parachutes with candy attached started floating down from the ceiling.

Asked whether the July 4 celebration’s candy drop would be his last, one member of his family said “he will continue to do it until he’s in the ground.”

This may seem like an unusual story to be in The Harp, but when my friend Gary Neeleman of Salt Lake City sent me a link to the story from KSL, I felt it’s the kind of story that needs to be told with a message that needs to be shared at a time when stories of the good things people do seem to not get the visibility that could cause people to pause and reflect.
 
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Election laws rewriting draws ire of state's GOP secretaries of state

washington-state-capitol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Retired secretaries of state Munro, Reed: Raffensperger merits national honor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lengthy effort to get documents in jobless-payment snafu leads to suit

washington-state-capitol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Quest for 20 to honor for COVID creativity and caring strategies

BellevueSkyline2020

It should have come as no surprise that our quest for nominations for The 20 of 2020 Awards to recognize creative and caring contributions by business people to our communities during COVID-19 would make it clear that prominent givers connect with dozens of equally committed individuals to carry out the giving.

One of those I refer to as creative givers that I reached out to is longtime Bellevue business leader Joan Wallace, who explained to me that what has gone on across her community and the region is "loving and caring people intersecting at the crossroads of need."

Sharon BloomeIn fact, Wallace sought to dispel what seems to be a growing sense that darkness is settling over the mood of the country that is due to more than the impact of COVID-19.

"What we see on the news leads us to believe that we have devolved into tribalism, segregating ourselves into silos where we acknowledge only those who look and believe as we do. My experience tells another story," Wallace told me in an email.

Two other friends that I connected with to help me plum the depth of the giving now going on were Katrina Eileen Romatowski, whose Katrina Eileen Real Estate is the only Benefit Corp, or social-purpose corporation, in her industry in this state, and longtime activist and philanthropist Sharon Gantz Bloome.

Interestingly, these three won't have known each other until they meet in this Harp, indicating people who carry a heavy load of giving don't sit around visiting about their giving.

In sharing the three interviews, I'll start with Wallace's admonition to set the stage: "I will share some of our adventures with the caveat that you make it clear to your readers that our efforts are just one small cog in a massive set of interlocking gears silently at work across this community.". We are just one example of thousands of families responding to needs as we become aware of them."

So I'll be back with Wallace but first want to introduce the other two interviewees.

Meet my longtime friend, Sharon Bloome, whom I became aware of decades ago after she moved to the Northwest in 1984 and co-founded Heart of America Northwest, which became the leading citizens' watchdog group for the cleanup of Hanford.

As chairman of the Rotary Club of Seattle's Environmental Committee, she co-produced an environmental guide for the business community entitled "Going Green: A Guide to Becoming An Environmentally Friendly Business Without Going Broke." Because of it, she was nominated for a United Nations Global 500 Award.

She spearheaded the mission of bringing computer skills to Seattle's inner-city children at the Rotary Boys & Girls Club, whose Computer Learning Center is named the Sharon Gantz Bloome Computer Learning Center. It's dedication plaque reads -- "Built by many, but delivered by the vision and tenacity of one."

Because she has Dyslexia, Bloome invested early this year to help create a teacher training program at Heritage University in Toppenish for a master's degree in inclusive education with a focus that includes Dyslexia and is the only program of its kind on the West Coast.

And when the coronavirus hit, and the program had to move online, Bloome says she believed the program "is just too important to go on hiatus even as we turned our attention to the pandemic and I am pleased to have played a part in its continued success." That meant financial support for the students.

Noting her view of the continued support of the degree at Heritage, Bloome said: "we must not completely lose focus on the post-covid-19 world. There are people who suffer across an array of issues great and small that we must continue to fight for."

An ongoing commitment of Bloome's was her personal support for a largely poor and Hispanic catholic parish in South King County, for which she regularly provided parishioners with food, clothing, and furniture.

 "Not Catholic, never was and never will be." chuckled the board member of the American Jewish World Service. "That doesn't matter. What matters is humanity and easing suffering in whatever way possible, wherever possible."

Then came COVID, of which she said, "I can't fix Covid. I wish I could. But I can help ease suffering for some families. The most elemental need is for people to eat. And so that's where I went, making it possible for the church to offer grocery gift cards and boxed assorted groceries to distribute to families in need."

Katrina Eileen is actually one of the creators and sponsors of The 20 of 2020 event, which is to be held February 11 at the Columbia Tower Club if live events return by then, or the evident honoring the 20 will be virtual. So she's not eligible to be among the 20, although her actions exemplify what we're looking for in potential honorees.

Katrina EileenMore than a decade ago, Katrina Eileen began a focus on aiding foster youth, culminating with her creation of a non-profit called Level Up, which is a housing and mentoring program for at-risk youth ages 18 to 24 who have aged out of the foster-care system.

In the face of the early struggles and fears people faced, Katrina Eileen decided to create a safe place for people in a Facebook group she called Real Kindness. It was a place people had a chance to share kind acts that they knew were occurring around the community, and she offered $1,000 a week for the posts with the most likes. One winner went on to be an overnight YouTube sensation, "Dad How Do I," a YouTube channel that soon had 400,000 hits.

Long a believer in the United Nations Global Goals, the first two of which are the end poverty in all its forms and to end hunger, she has partnered with a non-profit called Unify in a campaign that she calls Share the Number Love. It's an initiative to encourage people to pick one of the 17 global goals and share them on social media.

Now back to Joan Wallace, whose involvements accelerated by COVID start with Jubilee REACH, a Bellevue non-profit focused on "building a caring community in and around schools to meet the social and emotional needs of students and their families

"Since last March, individual families all across the greater Eastside have been showing up at Jubilee REACH every single week with a couple of bags of groceries that are immediately placed in the hands of waiting, needy people," Wallace said. "There are 26 Eastside churches involved in this effort where every week one family feeds another."

Then there's Congregation for the Homeless, a shelter for homeless men in downtown Bellevue, which had only been open six months a year until the current need made it clear the need for food and shelter would stretch through the winter,

So the Wallace's son, Kevin, former Bellevue City Council member, reached out to the community and raised the equivalent of $2 million in labor and supplies to get the building up to code in time to get open for the winter.

Meanwhile, Joan and Bob picked up when the previous process of volunteers preparing meals was ended by the virus and had to be replaced, but not totally, by area churches and groups providing food. Joan had to find Maggiano's Restaurant and Costco to fill food need for two nights a week, supported by $5,000 from her and Bob.

Bob and Joan WallaceThe Wallace outreach wasn't limited to the Eastside since a minister friend from an African-American church in the Rainier Valley told her of a low-income apartment building that he had built as one of the church's community enterprises that housed a mostly Muslim community.

Her conversations with the minister "revealed a need for baby diapers, wipes, and toilet tissue. I put out an email request to my neighbors as our daughter, Kim, did in hers. In one week, our collective neighbors donated enough to fill three large SUVs, so our entire family caravaned to the Rainier Valley to deliver the goods."

So as Wallace summed up of her family's involvements: "We are just one example of thousands of families responding to needs as we become aware of them."

It's those examples of creative giving that we are looking for by the deadline of December 1.

Marketingnnw.com, for three decades, the print bible of the Northwest marketing community and the digital format that replaced it on January 1, 2018, will produce a print supplement and online version with stories on the event and each of those selected.

The goal for this event, best summed up by a friend helping me assist in putting a similar focus on a San Diego event, is to seek out "those who combined success and sacrifice in a model that will become the new order. And in doing so, we begin to set a new standard for business people."

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State's last GOP governor 40 years ago once described himself as "darn good governor"

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It’s virtually certain that Gov. Jay Inslee will be re-elected on November 3 to a third term as Washington’s chief executive, which means that by the end of this term it will have been 44 years since a Republican was elected to the state’s highest office.

So the fact that for nine consecutive elections, with number 10 on November 3 all but certain, the state’s voters have opted for the Democratic candidate must give those who care about such things pause to wonder what kind of governor was that last one from the GOP. After all, he set the stage for the nation’s longest gubernatorial losing streak by either party.

Gov. John D. Spellman(Frmr) Gov. John D. SpellmanSo when thinking of that political oddity, I often reflect on an interview I did with that last Republican, John D. Spellman, 10 years ago on the 30th anniversary of his swearing-in. I asked him: “what kind of a governor were you?”

So Spellman, who died in January 2018 at the age of 91, replied with what I described as a twinkle in his Irish eyes, “I was a darn good governor.”

And there’s much that happened during his single four-year term, a time when the state faced what may have been its worst economic challenge up to that time, to justify that assessment from a historical perspective.

But it would have been difficult for many who were there at the time to agree since during his 1980-84 term as governor he managed to make decisions that irritated almost every segment of the political spectrum.
 
One such decision came about because of his strong commitment to environmental protection when he used his authority to prevent permitting for what he felt was an environmentally risky development project in a sensitive shoreline area of Whatcom County.
 
He made that decision in the face of enormous pressure from business groups and many legislators, but most notably, he turned down a direct request from President Ronald Reagan because, as some who knew Spellman later observed, integrity came before pressure, even from the president. Imagine that in this day and age.
 
I often passed Spellman, then in his early 80s, in the lobby of what was then the Columbia Center Building en route to his office at his Seattle law firm, Carney Badley Spellman, where he was still putting in four days a week and we’d pause to catch up.
 
Spellman, handsome and personable with a winning smile, was a graduate of Seattle University then Georgetown Law School. His ever-present pipe would be lit and relit during lengthy discussion sessions, some of which we had in the lobby of the Columbia Center when pipe smoking was permitted.
 
Among the decisions that he knew would face stiff opposition were those related to taxes.
 
“We passed more taxes in my four years than they have before or since," Spellman recalled in our interview.. "One of the challenges in seeking to get re-elected was that I said I would raise taxes only as a last resort and some people took that to mean I wouldn't raise taxes.”
 
"We had a crisis, as evidenced by the fact we had a 13.6 percent unemployment rate at one point, and in crises, you have to act," he added. "People didn't elect me to do nothing."
 
Spellman practiced politics in a long-gone era when Republican elected officials could be moderate enough to sometimes find Democrats to the right of them.

In fact, those interested in political history might find it intriguing that the Democrat who defeated Spellman after his single term was Booth Gardner, Harvard Business School graduate, a successful businessman and heir to the Weyerhaeuser fortune.

The other intriguing political oddity in this state relates to the office of Secretary of State, where the election drought is for Democrats, and it's two decades longer than the governor post.

A Democrat was last elected to the position that oversees state elections 60 years ago, in 1960.
 
The four men who held the role, leading up to the election eight years ago of current Secretary of State Kim Wyman, treated it as a nonpartisan job, according to prominent researcher and pollster Stuart Elway.
 
“And a lot of voters feel better about themselves if they don’t just vote a straight ticket, all Democrats or all Republicans, so they look for a place they can vote the opposite party,” Elway offered. “And the Republican secretaries of state made voting the ‘opposite’ party easier because they were good custodians of the office.”
 
Many observers from both parties agree that Wyman who, like Inslee, is seeking a third term, has done a commendable job handling the elections that constitute the position’s most important responsibility.

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Seattle identity for business ... once of value, now eroded and maybe gone.

Port-of-Seattle

 When Expedia announced five years ago it was moving its headquarters from Downtown Bellevue to the Seattle waterfront, the company's then-CEO Dara Khosrowshahi explained that a local company that did business nationally should have Seattle in its identity, as in "Seattle-based."

It was a sense proudly shared by many residents and business leaders and did, in fact, serve to attract businesses to relocate, in part to attract employees also drawn to the image Seattle nurtured.

But in the follow-on to this year of coronavirus decimation of the economy and the Seattle riots that brought a response from the city's elected officials of, basically, "let them alone, their cause is right," there's likely to be an effort by many, most importantly the business community, to seek to avoid a Seattle identity. For some, that will even mean relocating their business. to be based elsewhere.

The major example of that is the headlong rush by Amazon to build its Bellevue presence by millions of square feet. The company, with thousands of employees at its Seattle headquarters, doesn't have to announce it is moving. After all, there will be possible executive offices in the Bellevue locations and employee growth at several Eastside Amazon locations.

Smaller but equally meaningful examples abound. A real estate friend of mine who recently sold the home of a family that moved from Seattle to Boise said they contacted her after the move to say they had been treated like refugees by those they met in the Idaho capital. As in, "What was it like there?" "What can we do to make you feel welcome here?"

And a friend who is a member of a national non-profit board said the recent virtual board meeting was filled with questions relating to the image of Seattle that is now extant, as in "is it even half as bad as we read and hear?"

The fact that the vast majority of protesters were peaceful was to the credit of those who organized the marches, mostly to espouse Black Lives Matter.

But the fact that Seattle leaders refused to come down hard on those who were violent, for fear of seeming to be not liberal enough if they cracked down on those bent primarily on destruction, will linger over Seattle's image until the electorate changes the face of the city council. And maybe the mayor who guides the city.

Some say that change isn't likely to happen and point as evidence of that to the re-election of Kashama Sawant last fall despite the fact she is the most incendiary far-left figure on the council. Or in elective office in this state, perhaps ever.

Maybe she is what the Seattle that is emerging wants.
 
John Powers
One of the earliest proponents of the importance of an organization getting the Seattle name to the fore was John Powers, the one-time Spokane mayor who was picked in 2004 to be the new executive director of the Seattle-King County Economic Development Council.

He convinced EDC board members, many from Seattle's suburbs, that the organization should be renamed Enterprise Seattle and for three years guided business recruitment efforts convinced that Seattle in the name had broad appeal.

Powers followed that Enterprise Seattle role with nine years as executive director of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance before retiring last month and moving back home to Spokane to join in commercial real estate activity in partnership with his son, John Powers III.

Despite the fact that he will now be among those seeking to woo Seattle firms to move elsewhere, like maybe Eastern Washington, he remains a Seattle defender. He is convinced that while Seattle's image afar is now damaged, "I know how the political winds shift and long-term, I'm convinced Seattle's political pendulum will swing back toward the middle."

"Sawant is not the future of Seattle," he said, clearly intending to note the major image problem for Seattle is really a political problem.

"Seattle needs to find a unifier to guide the city back to that appealing image."

But the growing conviction that emergence from COVID-19 may include continuing the work-from-home factor is certain to challenge the return of Seattle's downtown to what used to be the normal of crowds of workers converging into the core.

And it's not just the possible appeal of living and working for a Seattle business from a home in Chelan, Ellensburg, Leavenworth, or Spokane; it's the likelihood of businesses themselves relocating.

That becomes a particular threat in the face of intent by the city's elected officials to find taxes that will impose the cost of fixing Seattle's ills on business, which are often pictured by too many of those City Council members as evil, greedy and self-serving.

Bellevue, for example, could do a much better job of marketing itself to those businesses already wondering if they should relocate but uncertain how to go about developing the idea.
But mounting a campaign targeting Seattle businesses obviously couldn't be implemented until a post-COVID time.

But proof that a Bellevue plan should be taking shape was my being told by the CEO of one Seattle-based regional company, "I really think we should move out of Seattle, but I'm not sure how to pursue that."

One possible idea for Bellevue business leaders  would be that all marketing materials should include a reference to "Seattle's premier side, the Eastside."

And pitching the difference by how the two cities have responded to the issue of pillage and destruction accompanying the protests is an emerging opportunity.

As indicated earlier, the idea of allowing law enforcement to enforce the law was greeted in Seattle with a "leave them alone, or we'll appear not liberal enough," accompanied by a willingness to force out with ill-treatment a widely respected black police chief.

In Bellevue, however, a police chief is in charge who understood the difference between peaceful protestors (with whom he actually met and spent time with during the demonstrations) and "an organized criminal network...clocking themselves as peaceful protesters."

Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett, in a video report to the community soon after the May 31 night of mayhem, explained that Bellevue experienced "a riot by more than a thousand criminals and opportunists who converged on the downtown core intent on causing destruction."

Mylett said he has ordered Bellevue police detectives "to identify and arrest as many of these offenders as possible" and added that anyone who wished could go to the police homepage to "upload any video or pictures from May 31 that would help us identify suspects."

Mylett said, "we have referred over 63 cases related to the riots and looting in Bellevue for prosecution, to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office."

 
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A hope that recalling 9/11 unity can remind us of what unity looks like

911-memorial

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Perhaps nothing can help remind this divided nation what unity looks like more than to recall the manner in which the citizens of this country, supported by the citizens of virtually every nation, came together united in grief over the tragedy of that 2001 September day etched forever in our minds as 9/11.
Toward the goal of providing that reminder, I share again, as I first did in a Harp on the 10th anniversary of that day and again on the 15th anniversary, and each year since then the piece written by a former, now late, United Press International colleague named Al Webb.


From his post in UPI's London bureau, Webb recapped days later the grief that poured out for us from across the globe. It has become my annual reminder of that display of shared pain out of a sense that we deserve to be reminded. Or rather it is required that we be reminded.)

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

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In the wake of Slade Gorton's death Wednesday morning at the age of 92, there will be many stories shared about his contributions during his four decades of public service as a legislator, state attorney general, and U. S. Senator. But the story that may most compellingly define his integrity, unfortunately, will only be shared here.
 
It's the story of how this state's two most powerful Republican elected officials hatched a plan a little over a half-century ago to put a black man in a position to have a shot at becoming the nation's first black governor since reconstruction.
 
Slade GordonSlade GordonBut it's a story that won't be totally comfortable for those espousing the cause of Black Lives Matter since the man that Gorton and then-Gov. Dan Evans sought to move to the political fore made his reputation as a black Republican espousing a message of self-help for blacks seeking to earn their opportunity.  
 
Art Fletcher was a college football player from a little college in Kansas who made it to the pro ranks for a single season as the first black player with the Baltimore Colts, then proceeded to head West to get involved in political issues.
 
He eventually found his way to the Tri-Cities area of Eastern Washington and launched a self-help program for residents of the largely black community of East Pasco. The success of the program helped him win a place on the Pasco City Council in 1967. I remember hearing about him and doing a column in early 1968, about the same time Evans and soon thereafter Gorton heard him speak, saw his impact on listeners and decided he deserved a shot at statewide elective office.
 
The plan was to convince him to run for lieutenant governor, which he did. And the campaign poster picturing four young members of the Republican team seeking statewide office, three of them white and one black, was way ahead of its time, as were the convictions for equality of the two young leaders, Evans and Gorton.
 
It's difficult for the history books to convey, if any were to try, the similarity between the racial unrest of today and the more violent riots in many U.S. cities in the mid to late '60s.
 
Then the slogan for the riots was "burn baby burn," a much more riot-appropriate chant than the largely peaceful protests to shouts of Black Lives Matter.
 
The protests in the Seattle area in the late '60s were as much about the Vietnam war as about black unrest, but the latter occasionally leaped out as with bombs tossed at the homes of a couple of elected officials, white lawmakers representing largely minority districts.
 
And never reported, though I heard about it directly at the time from Evans' personal Washington State Patrol security officer, was the dangerous encounter the governor had one day when he went to Garfield High School to reach out to young black youths who had been involved in the protest.
 
Evans and his security officer found themselves in a room with a couple of dozen young men who, according to the security officer, began to draw a circle around the pair with anger in their eyes. But Evans apparently quietly calmed them down.
 
Part of Evans' and Gorton's desire to boost Fletcher's career was his ability to replace the kind of anger Evans faced at Garfield High with a sense of optimism.
 
"Art's message was 'we need to boost ourselves," Evans said in our conversation this week.
 
The idea was for Fletcher to be elected lieutenant governor and when Evans' term ended, he would step aside and he and Gorton would help Fletcher run for governor.
But Fletcher lost the race to incumbent John Cherberg by a few points.
 
Evans reflected on that effort Wednesday when I called him about Gorton's death and I mentioned their remarkable effort to pave the way for a Black governor, which I wrote about two years ago on the 50th anniversary of that remarkable political year.
 
"Fletcher would have transformed Washington State and the nation," Evans observed.
 
But because of the visibility Evans and Gorton provided Fletcher, including a presentation at the Republican Convention of '68, at which Evans was keynoter, on his self-help philosophy to advance the fortunes of black Americans, he won a spot in the Nixon administration.
 
As an Assistant Secretary of Labor, Fletcher put in place the nation's first affirmative action program, coming to be known as the Father of Affirmative Action, something that would never have come about if Evans and Gorton had not had a vision of what could be.  
 
And Gorton should be remembered for sharing the shaping of that vision decades ahead of its time, as well as all his other accomplishments, including saving the Seattle Mariners.

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Former Seattleite's education innovation may aid COVID-19 schools challenge

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Kathryn E. Kelly is an environmental toxicologist with a global reputation and clientele who decided to step away from her Tahoe-based business for a time a decade ago to homeschool her two adopted Kazakhstan-born sons.
 
That homeschooling in the Incline Village, NV, a community where she moved from Seattle to raise her sons, Nikolay and Sasha, became an early example of blended learning in a way that attracted national and even international attention. And now, amid the schooling uncertainty in the midst of COVID-19, conventional school districts are seeking her help.
 
Kathryn Kelley PH.D.Kathryn Kelley PH.D.Kelly's original blended-learning school that she named eLearning Café was an innovative internet café with computers, chairs for relaxing conversation and an opportunity for drop-ins to take courses in person or online, or to offer instruction.
 
But she metamorphosed eLearning Café into I·School, standing for individualized learning, as retired teachers began showing up to work with students whose parents sent them to learn under Kelly's guidance.
 
Late last week the 64,000-student Washoe County School District approached her about taking a number of the district's Advanced Placement students into I·School. Now she faces the daunting possibility that other districts around the country may follow suit in order to get their students into the hands of experienced online educators.
 
Kelly has an interesting set of degrees as an undergraduate from Stanford who got her Ph.D. in environmental toxicology from Columbia University, then her teaching credentials from Western Governors University (WGU), which she credits with being the competency-based model for I·School.
 
And she told me this week that she inquired of WGU, where she earned a Masters of Education in Learning and Technology, "How many teachers can you send me?"
 
She was pleased, she said, with the answer: "Whatever number you need."
 
The magic of I·School has been the process of creating rigorous and individualized approaches to education according to student needs and interests.
 
"When you let students be in control of their learning, great things result, whether retaking a class, looking for advanced academic opportunities or just expanding personal horizons," Kelly said. Her premise from the outset has been "the one-size-fits-all model of current education did not fit my sons or anyone else I knew, from special-needs kids to profoundly gifted ones."
 
Ironically, it was her deciding she wanted to be a mom that guided Kelly to a new career as an education innovator as she adopted 6-year-old Nikolay from Kazakhstan in 2003 and Sasha, then age seven, in 2006 from the same Central Asian nation so "Kolya" would have a brother.
 
"I created I·School to give my kids a great education without having to teach them myself, and I accomplished that," Kelly said. "And I have a thriving toxicology practice doing things I love as well."
 
"Someone else will be leading I·School in new directions, or we will merge with a like-minded school and become a desirable satellite location for their children to be educated," she added. "You don't have to talk many people into spending extended time at Tahoe."
 
"Like-minded" could also include outdoor schooling since she said several of her students' parents have inquired about that and she has been approached by the president of a prominent outdoor leadership program called Project Discovery, about 15 minutes from Tahoe, to use his outdoor facilities to do schooling.
 
In fact, Kelly noted that her I·School training includes having students get up from the computers once an hour "to go outside and look at the trees, smell the forest, or somehow touch base with nature for a few minutes."
 
There is one downside, Kelly cautioned.
 
"Unfortunately, parents will have to pay us for classes that are not currently available in the district," Kelly explained. "While we are glad to be able to give our school districts some additional options during a time like this, having parents pay twice - once through their taxes and again to us - does not seem like an equitable solution in the long run and I hope that can be fixed soon at the state level."
 
I first met Kelly in the late '80s when she headed her own Seattle-based environmental firm and we served on the Seattle Chamber of Commerce Board together and both taught classes at the Business Week summer program to teach students about business.
 
Thus she asked me to be on the eLearning Café advisory board she put together and when I learned about her getting her degree from WGU, I introduced her to WSU President Emeritus Sam Smith, one of the founders of WGU, and she invited Smith to also be a member of that advisory board.
 
Within two years of its 2011 founding, eLearning Cafes, Inc., and then I·School was attracting national attention and gaining accreditation. Kelly was a speaker at various blended-learning conferences around the country.
 
Now she may find the coronavirus crisis provides a new and challenging focus on her and her novel blended learning school.

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If the new face in GOP field wins the primary, governor's race could be interesting

washington-state-capitol

Raul Garcia, Cuban immigrant and osteopathic physician from Yakima, Is an unusual gubernatorial hopeful facing an uphill election battle in the most crowded gubernatorial field in state history. But he has suddenly begun attracting media attention in the closing days of the primary campaign.
 
And media attention at a time of crescendoing crises of COVID-19, riots and looting in the streets and economic bad news is difficult to attract these days, even to things of broad import like elections.
 
But what has begun to generate the attention to Garcia, 49, who made up his mind to run and filed at the last minute, is that he has attracted the endorsement and support from virtually every prominent member of the respected cadre of Republican mainstream moderates.
 
Former Gov. Dan Evans, Former Sen. Slade Gorton and Former Attorney General Rob McKenna all endorsed him, as have former secretaries of state Ralph Munro and Sam Reed. Reed is serving as Garcia' campaign chair.
 
Garcia fled Cuba with his mother when he was 11, grew up in Miami, went to osteopathic medical school in New York and came to Yakima 13 years ago to help launch the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, an osteopathic medical school.
 
If he should make the final two out of next Tuesday's primary and get to contest Inslee in the general election, he is likely to attract voter interest in ways that won't make Inslee's team comfortable because they will have to undertake the usual political attacks with care.
 
Garcia is an immigrant who talks of what the ideology of Fidel Castro did to his growing-up years in Cuba. He's a physician who has been on the COVID-19 front lines at his hospital. And attractive to GOP moderates, he laments the lack of middle ground in politics and an unwillingness of elected officials to work together.
 
In this health-conscious, COVID-19 time, the fact that he's an emergency room doctor in Yakima, which is where he met his wife, Jessica, a former emergency and trauma nurse, while working together in a Yakima emergency department, will have appeal.  
 
Until recently, it appeared that Inslee would face one of four conservative Republicans in the general: State Sen. Phil Fortunato, initiative king Tim Eyman, former Bothell mayor Joshua Freed or former Republic police chief Loren Culp. None was attractive to Republican moderates. Then Garcia began to emerge, basically since Memorial Day.
 
Explaining why the GOP mainstream was backing Garcia, Munro said: "He has the philosophy to make things work, on moving the state forward. All the candidates are anti-this or anti-that. Garcia knows the best is ahead not behind us."

"A lot of people are concerned that we are moving farther and farther to the left," added Munro. "He lived it in Cuba and tells us what it is."
 
Garcia's website makes clear what Sam Reed describes as a "wart" that Garcia was convicted of reckless driving six years ago after a DUI arrest.
 
But as the campaign moves from next week's primary to two finalists vying over the next three months for a victory in the General Election, more than his opponent's campaign is waiting to become uncomfortable and maybe challenging for Inslee.
 
Inslee's team isn't yet aware but may have heard rumors, about the issue that will soon explode onto the campaign scene that isn't part of any political effort to unseat him.
 
Rather the effort is to pin Inslee the agonies and woes of those who have been caught up in the unemployment claims debacle that has occurred in the Employment Security Department (ESD) headed by his appointee, Susan (Suzie) LeVine
 
As many as 100,000 Washington residents have had delayed or unpaid claims for the unemployment insurance payments and for thousands, the lack of those checks has become a crisis. And if the federal $600 unemployment check ends this month, or shrinks, the crisis will escalate and expand into a crisis that could rival the COVID-19 crisis in terms of impact.
 
Lynn Brewer, a former Enron executive who has spent years going after big-company CEOs who fail to put their shareholders first, made a formal public disclosure request for all emails between Inslee and ESD LeVine.  
 
The request from Brewer's attorney, Joan Mell, asked for "Any emails with an attached official report or brief related to fraud or delayed unemployment insurance payments sent from ESD to the Governor's Office from March 15, 2020 through June 6, 2020."  
 
After some phone and email contacts, ESD's records department head, Robert Page emailed Mell "the estimated date to complete a response to your public record request is no later than December 31, 2020." In other words, after the election.
 
When the comic relief of the agency's handling of the request comes to light, and the lawsuits against the department that will soon be filed in quest of those emails lands, with an election campaign getting underway, Inslee won't be a happy soul.  
 
A Seattle Times article On LeVine, as the department's role in the unemployment payments disaster began to unfold, said she has "operated as a potent, behind-the-scenes force in Democratic politics, and over the past several months hosted a parade of 2020 presidential candidates in private, salon-style fundraisers at her Seattle home in her role as a deputy finance chair for the Democratic National Committee."
 
Not the kind of appointee a Democratic governor who hopes to win a place in a Biden administration decides to fire. And that issue may pose a problem as the gubernatorial campaign unfolds.  
 
Raul GarciaRaul GarciaRepublican legislative leaders suggest Inslee's unwillingness to call a special session to deal with the state's financial crisis is due to his unwillingness to have a broad awareness of the depths of that financial crisis unfold.
 
Could Inslee actually face a re-election challenge? Not likely if one of the candidates other than Garcia gets the nomination.

I asked Stuart Elway, perhaps the state's most respected pollster, if it was possible Inslee could face a serious re-election challenge.
 
He referred to his most recent poll that showed Inslee at 45 percent, "all opponents at 33 percent, but 24 percent were undecided, which is interesting because everyone knows who Inslee is and yet 24 percent indicate they don't know how they are going to vote."
 
"I think Inslee people should be a little concerned about 24 percent who may basically be waiting to see what develops in the campaign," he added.

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Could the governor's office be follow-on prize in this year's lieutenant governor race?

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The battle for the nominations for the part-time position of Washington's lieutenant governor has drawn a cluster of hopefuls based in part at least on what some pundits see as the strong possibility that the governor's office could be a subsequent prize awaiting whoever wins the post in the November general election.
 
That isn't at all what the framers of the state's constitution had in mind when they created the position of an elected official to fill in for the governor from time to time and preside over the Senate when the legislature is in session. And hang around in case the governor died or was incapacitated. Or, as with Inslee, a possible appointment to a Biden administration, should there be one.
 
That limited constitutional role made it historically a job coveted by those who first made a name outside of politics, then sought an easy ride into a job most voters likely don't really pay much attention to.
 
Thus this year is only the third time in the past century that a person running for lieutenant governor nurtures the hope that winning the job could lead to becoming the next state chief executive, sooner rather than when Gov. Jay Inslee completes the third term for which he's now running. And has promised to serve out.
 
The "sooner" looms like an apple hanging from the tree because of the much-discussed possibility that if Joe Biden is elected, he would tap Inslee.
 
The interesting side note is that by the time Biden could win office, Inslee's image could be badly tarnished as the effort unfolds to tie him tightly to the state's employment security disaster that has devastated the lives of thousands of state residents forced to wait endlessly and needlessly for their unemployment checks.
 
Inslee's protection of his employment security head Susan "Suzi' LeVine and avoidance at press gatherings about discussing the disaster and LeVine's role in it will be made an issue in the governor's race. And if Inslee's image begins to tarnish, it will be interesting to watch how the four Democrats in the lieutenant governor's race handle questions about the unemployment disaster.
 
But back to the race for the $115,000 annual salary position, a race that has attracted four Democrats, five Republicans and two Libertarians to this year's contest.
 
Three of the state's first nine lieutenant governors actually became the state's chief executive when the man who was governor died in office. One of them, Louis Hart, was elected to a full term after succeeding Ernest Lister in February of 1919, a month after Lister took office.
 
William Jennings (Wee) Coyle, a former UW football great and decorated war hero, started it all in 1920 when he parlayed his name familiarity into a landslide victory in the race for the state's second-highest elective office, openly indicating he hoped to become governor four years later.
 
Coyle was only 32, a handsome former UW star quarterback just back from the World War I battlefields when he strategized to use the lieutenant governor role to position himself to run for governor, a race he ran in 1924, but lost.
 
For most of the next 96 years, the office was held by those who had first risen to prominence beyond the political sphere.
 
It wasn't until Brad Owen, a Democrat and former state legislator from Shelton was elected in 1996 and was re-elected four times that a lieutenant governor created real importance for the position.
 
During his five terms, Owen created for the office the role of a goodwill ambassador for the state in international trade and promotion of Washington products overseas. The lieutenant governor also serves as chairman of the Joint Committee on Economic Development, Tourism and Trade. Plus Owen led trade missions to parts of the world where the title "lieutenant governor" opens doors.
 
But the history of the position has provided some interesting political lore.
 
The fact the lieutenant governor is often described as "a heartbeat away from the governor's chair" has seemed to hold little importance for Washington voters, despite those three early in the 20th century who rose to the top state office because of the deaths of the governors.
 
Colorful Victor A. Meyers, a mustachioed maestro who earned a reputation as a big-name band leader, decided to seek the office as a Democrat in 1932. He won and was re-elected four times before being defeated in 1952 by Emmett Anderson, who had gained fame as the "Grand Exalted Ruler" of the Elks.
 
Anderson, like Coyle, had hoped to use the post as a springboard to the governorship and made an unsuccessful run for governor in 1956 and lost to Albert D. Rosellini.
 
That allowed John A. Cherberg, a failed football coach at the University of Washington, to run for the job as a Democrat and win. Cherberg commenced a 32-year stand in the job that made him the longest-tenured lieutenant governor ever in the nation.
 
The most interesting effort to boost a non-politician into the job came in 1968 when then-Gov. Dan Evans and his state Republican chairman, C. Montgomery (Gummie) Johnson along with future U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, then running for attorney general, hatched a plan to oust Cherberg from the office, which by then he had held for 12 years. The goal was to set the stage for the election of the first black man since reconstruction to become governor four years later.
 
I've written about Evans, Johnson, and Gorton seeking to boost the fortunes of Art Fletcher, a black city councilman from Pasco who had gathered some national prominence for the development of a self-help program in the East Pasco ghetto.
 
The effort by three Republican leaders, back in 1968, to create an opportunity for an African-American to have a shot at becoming governor needs to have a high-visibility role at this time, in particular, rather than being lost in Washington State history. I wrote a 50-years-on column in 2018 at Evans's suggestion, as he reminded me of "the Republican plot to get a black man a chance to be governor."
 
So Johnson talked popular and prominent hydroplane driver Bill Muncey into running for the post, once confiding to me off the record that Muncey had wanted to know what a lieutenant governor did. "Not a lot," Johnson had replied, with some honesty.
 
Fletcher won the GOP primary but failed to dislodge Cherberg in the general election. But a year later, thanks in part to the visibility Evans helped create for him, he gained a position in the Nixon Administration's U.S. Department of Labor, where he created the first Affirmative Action program
 
By the time he retired in 1988, Cherberg had built a reputation for integrity and even-handedness in his role as the State Senate's presiding officer. And with the election of Joel Pritchard, a respected Republican congressman, and former legislator, the job took on an increasingly important role that Owen continued to build on during his years in the office.
 
Incidentally, the state's top-two primary system doesn't guarantee any party a spot in the general election, so it would be possible for the votes to split in such a way that two Democrats or two Republicans could advance to the general. Election.

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Statues part of history's ambiguity that fuels discussion about evils of racism

Johannes_Adam_Simon_Oertel_Pulling_Down_the_Statue_of_King_George_III_N.Y.C._ca._1859 Johannes Adam Simon Oertel Pulling Down the Statue of King George III

Nothing was more certain to frame the clash between the national reckoning with the evil of racism and a history bristling with racial ambiguity than the phenomenon of statue destruction that has come to mark the current wave of protests against racial injustice.
 
The destruction of statues has been the violent counterpoint to the mostly peaceful protests across the nation, but that violence has begun to stir some controversy, including those who think the actions have gone well beyond the acceptable.  
 
What began as an effort to tear down statues erected to honor some of the best-known Confederate generals has moved on to target virtually any historical figure who owned slaves. In San Francisco's Golden Gate Park recently that statue destruction included ones to honor St. Junipero Serra, founder of the string of California missions, and Francis Scott Key, who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner. And likely surprising to many, the statue of Ulysses S. Grant, the commander of the army that defeated the Confederacy and who became president.
 
The pushback reactions included a tongue-in-cheek one from the small-town mayor in Ohio who announced the creation of a "statue sanctuary" city and offered his community as a place to which the felled statues, or those not yet toppled, could be shipped for protected display.  
 
There was the Catholic Archbishop who, explaining "there was evil here," performed an exorcism at the site in the park where the statue of Junipero Serra had been torn down.
 
And significantly, there's the black mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, who scolded protestors who tore down statues while damaging Golden Gate Park, saying "when people take action in the name of my community, they should actually involve us. And when they vandalize our public parks, that's their agenda, not ours."  
 
There were even some who suggested that statues of George Washington, who owned slaves, and Thomas Jefferson, who fathered children with one of his slaves, should be removed. Those suggestions helped fuel the controversy over the statues
 
One of the toppled monuments, a 10-ton cross erected in a Seattle cemetery 94 years ago to honor the memory of Confederate soldiers, prompted a call from my longtime friend, Gary Neeleman, author of perhaps the definitive work on one of the most racially ambiguous chapters of American history.
 
I'm referring to the story of the thousands of southerners who fled to Brazil to establish new lives after the fall of their beloved Confederacy and their refusal to again become citizens of the United States.
 
Neeleman's four decades of research on that bit of history included numerous trips to Brazil, both because of his ties to that nation and because of his fluency with the Portuguese language. He and his wife, Rose, became taken early in his professional career there with the 1866-67 emigration of the confederates, who quickly became known as the Confederados.
 
His book, Stars and Bars Under the Southern Cross, included dozens of interviews with descendants of the original 7,000 families who moved to Brazil at the invitation of Brazil's emperor, as well as newspaper clippings and letters shared by those descendants. In addition, the Neeleman's collected hundreds of photos.
 
The book was published in Portuguese by the most prominent university in Brazil but awaits a publisher to produce the book in English.
 
Long a little-known part of American history, the story has been gathering some attention, including a front-page piece in USA Today in 2015 on the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and a recent documentary on the History Channel.  
 
And those who relate the story with anything resembling sympathy or kind thoughts for those descendants of the Confederados, who gather annually for a celebration at the cemetery where many of the original Confederates and their descendants are buried, suffer some criticism.  
 
Thus I'm sure it was for USA Today whose cover story included a photo of kids wearing baseball caps with the Confederate battle flag emblazoned on them.
 
I've done a couple of columns on Neeleman, a longtime colleague of mine from our United Press International days, on his three books on Brazil's history, including the one on the Confederates when it was published in 2015 in Portuguese, the language of Brazil.
 
I got some reader pushback over that column for the comment that the decades of research by Neeleman and his wife, Rose, through aged documents, old letters and newspaper clippings, and interviews with descendants had led him to conclude that history rather than racial hatred, and pride rather than prejudice, were the driving forces for those who moved to Brazil.
 
And likely even more pushback from any who will be offended by our conversation this week when he explained that his research and conversations with descendants made it clear that the Confederadoes didn't emigrate to Brazil to retain slavery in their two primary Brazilian cities.
 
"Many of them bought ranches that had Black slaves," Neeleman told me." But in virtually 90 percent of the cases, they freed the slaves and hired them to continue their work on the ranches. Our research indicated they were frequently quoted as explaining that they wanted to hire their help so they could fire those who weren't working."
 
And because I'm fascinated by little known bits of history, I find it thought-provoking that the only substantial outmigrations from this country other the Confederates to Brazil, was the migration by freed slaves to West Africa, beginning in the early decades of the 1800s, to settle in and help create the nation of Liberia.
 
I thought it appropriate that I close with a comment from Annette Gordon-Reed, a Black historian of U.S. slavery, legal scholar, and member of the Presidential Initiative on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery. She won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for her explosive 2008 work, "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family."

Here is what Gordon-Reed, a professor of history and the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, " offered in an interview on the ambiguity of slavery:

"No one puts a monument up to Washington or Jefferson to promote slavery. The monuments go up because, without Washington, there likely would not have been an American nation. They put up monuments to T.J. because of the Declaration of Independence, which every group has used to make their place in American society. Or they go up because of T.J.'s views on separation of church and state and other values that we hold dear. I think on these two, Washington and Jefferson, in particular, you take the bitter with sweet. The main duty is not to hide the bitter parts"
 

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Political issues emerge for Inslee as the state seeks to cope with major jobs funds theft

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The necessary steps Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took to get a handle on the spread of the coronavirus in the state where it first appeared have apparently achieved the goal of controlling the virus. But the ensuing developments following Inslee's action have spiraled out of control and put the governor in a hunker-down, defensive situation.
 
First came the unfortunate impact of the economy halt as 600,000 state residents lost their jobs, sending them seeking state unemployment checks to survive the crisis.
 
Then Washington became the epicenter of a ring of foreign thieves tapping into the unemployment claims system, the calculation of the millions lost magnifying each day.
 
It's now estimated that the loss to the state is at nearly $1 billion, dwarfing the loss suffered by the handful of other states whose payment systems were hacked, reportedly by scammers including a Nigerian crime ring.

Suzie LevineSuzie LevineFederal officials said Washington suffered far more losses than the half dozen other states that experience hackers because this state had a vulnerable system. That brought an unseemly defensive response from the governor's staff that if the feds knew Washington systems for handing claims was vulnerable, "why didn't they tell us." Really?
 
Then came the far more unfortunate, and frankly indefensible, action Inslee's Employment Security Department (ESD) commissioner, Suzie LeVine, took to try to get control of the hundreds of millions of state dollars in fraudulent claims. LeVine decided to hold up payments for unemployment claims until steps were taken to verify each claim, rather than make the payments and then reviewing the applications.

Now come the stories of anguish, desperation, and despair from those who first suffered the loss of jobs and now are suffering the loss of what's turning for many to be survival money because of LeVine's fraud-correction strategy.
 
But also now comes Lynn Brewer, who knows a few things about financial shenanigans and malfeasance from her days as an executive at Enron, a name that may ring few memory bells, 20 years on, despite the fact that until its bankruptcy in 2001, it was hailed as "America's most innovative company."
 
Thus when she and her husband's unemployment checks were caught up in the ESD scheme and the resulting scandal still unfolding, she expressed a sense of "I've been here before," with strong indignation in her voice.
 
In her book, "House of Cards: Confessions of an Enron Executive," after her 2001
departure from Enron, she detailed what happened inside the company. And for several years, she as a sought-after national speaker on the topic of corporate integrity.
 
"This is a governance failure of Enron proportions," Brewer said. "From my experience at Enron, I believe there are underlying issues with ESD that have not been revealed to the public by the media."
 
So she has filed a public records request seeking all email contact between Inslee and LeVine and between LeVine and those in her department.
 
"The public records request will tell us what those underlying issues are," Brewer added. "With a corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission would investigate.  But here, it is left to the people to do the investigation."
 
Brewer also said she has "discussed a possible class-action lawsuit with one of the class action law firms involved in the Enron cases and they are assessing that."
 
Lynn BrewerLynn BrewerBrewer told me today that she learned from one of those emailing her that ESD is refusing benefits to those who worked for a church or a nonprofit, which should provide fodder for media questions of the governor.  

Republican Sen. Ann Rivers of Clark County said she has asked Inslee to use Federal CAREs Act dollars to do an audit of the ESD system but has had no response, as with the GOP lawmakers' request for the governor to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with the massive dollar loss.
 
Then Brewer began tweeting her dissatisfaction with the ESD and its lack of communication on the failure of ESD to pay her and her husband's claims. And the victims of ESD's disastrous effort to clean up the fraud issue began emailing their stories of anguish to her.
 
And those now 200 or more stories of pain came flowing in.

So she's been asked by Sen. Curt King, R-Yakima, to send the names to him so the Republican caucus can send the names to each legislator, Republican or Democrat, in whose district the resident denied claims resides.

"I have received emails from those who have not been paid, including people who have had their telephone shut off for non-payment; others who are sleeping in their car; and one who had lost 25 pounds from stress, and many more stories," she said. 

LeVine is a much larger political issue for the governor than a flap with state Republican legislators. She is a prominent Democratic fund-raiser, having raised $2.3 million for Barrack Obama, who appointed her ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein.
 
During the 2020 presidential campaign, she hosted a parade of presidential candidates in what one media organization described as "Salon-style fundraisers at her home in Seattle in her role as deputy finance chair for the Democratic National Committee."
 
Unless you are an extremely courageous chief executive, you withstand any pressure to fire a Suzie LeVine, regardless of her failures and shortcomings, particularly if you are a governor who hopes for a position in a Democratic administration, should Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump in November.
 
Senator Rivers said she is "amazed that the governor is doubling down on LeVine," a concern that Democratic lawmakers may soon if they haven't already quietly done so, be expressing to Inslee.
 
.While Brewer said she voted for Inslee, she has taken the lead as a visible protagonist in the campaign to get rid of LeVine, which could prove more troubling to Inslee than merely facing the criticism of Senate Republican leaders whose criticisms, even when supported by facts, will come across as political.
 
"The EDC snafu is a failure of numerous programs in the State government under his watch and there was a coordination of programs to curtail payments and an effort is being made to keep claimants and voters in the dark," Brewer charged.
 
"Simply, the public needs to know who coordinated this response to cut Washingtonians off from their weekly payments and what did Inslee know and when did he know it?" she said.
 
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Shared thoughts and one man's Facebook post on #BlackLives that have mattered

BlackLivesMatter

Before anyone came up with the phrase "Black Lives Matter," I saw it being played out as a way of life for the kids, black, white, and many others, who grew to adulthood in our diverse neighborhood in Seattle's Mount Baker area.
 
And despite watching the protests in cities across the country the past week over the slaying of George Floyd, a black man, by a Minneapolis police officer, I hadn't thought about that long-ago interaction among young people until one of them created a Facebook post this week.
 
But before I get to the moving post by Brett Omri, a Seattle firefighter, I need to offer a little background on the neighborhood, which had been the upper-middle-class area where doctors, attorneys, investment advisors lived. Until the Black unrest in the late '60s lashed Seattle and created fear for those upper-class whites who moved out to safer neighborhoods.  
 
So we and other young couples, white and various minorities, with young children discovered the neighborhood and found prices that were marked down so much by escaping longtime residents that we couldn't pass up living there since we had no problem with mixed race.
 
So our three kids commuted to a mixed-race St. Therese catholic grade school where Michael's focus on athletics immersed him with the talented young minority kids Together, with Michael as the only white boy on the starting five eighth grade boys basketball team, they won the state championship.
 
The parents who followed their basketball-hopeful sons grow from barely capable to state champions knew the amazing change was the handiwork of former Seattle U. basketball star Peller Phillips, an African-American who truly cared about the boys. They came to know he was their friend and he became a friend of all the parents.
 
In track, the team coached by Wayne Melonson, an African-American who would become the principal and whose funeral in 2015 would fill St. James Cathedral (see Flynn's Harp: Wayne Melonson) with mourners of every race, wiped out the completion.  
 
The three young black boys, with Michael, on the 400-meter relay team that won its races against other Seattle catholic school kids, included the young Peller Phillips, who routinely took the baton from Michael. In one meet, Michael stepped on Peller's shoe and it came off and by the time he ran back a couple of steps and kneeled got his shoe back on, the second-place team's runner was within 30 meters. Then Peller took off, and it was over.
 
And the lasting impact his friends had on him was evidenced when Michael came home from his first day of basketball practice at Seattle's Blanchett High School, where blond hair and blue eyes marked the student body, I asked him how it went.
 
He looked at me and said, "I guess ok." "So what's wrong?" I asked. "They all have white boy's disease!" "What's that?" "They can't jump," he replied seriously.

---------
Now to Brett Omri, who grew up on the corner, two houses from ours, with the African-American editor of the Seattle Times in the home between us and the Omris. Across the street were the homes of three African-American families, including the number two executive of the Bellevue School District who raised her family directly across the street from us.
.
Brett is a 45-year-old Seattle firefighter, a friend of my youngest daughter, Eileen.

Here is his Facebook post:
"Black Lives matter to me. Not because it's 'politically correct,' but because I'm selfish. Black Lives have been intimately and beautifully intertwined in the story of my life. Black Lives have run and played with me as a kid. Black lives have both learned with me and educated me. Black Lives have competed and performed with me. Black lives have hung out and broken bread with me. Black Lives have welcomed me into their homes and brought me to church with them. Black Lives have celebrated and mourned with me. Black lives have created with me. Black Lives have lead and worked with me. And sometimes in those moments, Black Lives have been gracious enough to share their stories.

What is happening is not new. What happened to George Floyd has happened thousands of times before. Each incident is woven, painfully, into another family's history; sometimes more than once. I can't claim to grasp the depth of that suffering. I just know that my heart hurts. I can't help but run over the faces of Black Lives that have touched mine and wondered about my loss if their lives had been cut short before they intersected with mine.

Black Lives are our neighbors, teachers, classmates, bosses, coworkers, teammates, coaches, leaders, family, and friends. That's why Black Lives Matter. Black Lives are a part of our lives. Why do Black Lives have to keep reminding us of that? How sad is it that Black Lives need to plead to the rest of us that they simply "matter." And that our response is to get cute with a hashtag that invalidates their pain. So, yes, this is my line in the sand. If you can't bring yourself to say, at the very least, Black Lives Matter then I don't think I have anything more to say to you.
The destruction that is occurring as I write this is a consequence of a dream that has been deferred indefinitely. This is our fault. We don't seem to take notice of anything else and then have the audacity to judge when the pain, sorrow, and rage boil over. It is the cruelest form of gaslighting I can imagine. When Black Lives marched, we released the dogs and fire hoses. When Black Lives stood up, we cut them down. When Black Lives kneeled, we called them un-American. What is there left to do but rage?

To the Black Lives that have touched mine - you have my undying support and love. You have made me a better human being and opened my eyes to so many things. I wouldn't be me without your influence, friendship, and love. I am at a loss of how to help ease the pain you are experiencing, likely because I can't. Please, just know that I see you. #BlackLivesMatterToMe."
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Seattle, Bellevue officials prepared for peaceful protests, not "American ISIS"

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Police and elected officials in Seattle and Bellevue were prepared for a weekend of peaceful protests that had the laudable purpose of raising awareness about the "murder" of a black man by a white policeman in Minneapolis. But they were unprepared for the accompanying rioting and mayhem guided by what could come to be described as an American ISIS of white thugs, self-named Antifa, bent on revolution.

But the fact is the mayor and police chiefs in both cities were warned in advance that the creators of a strategy of destruction were coming in under the cover of the peaceful demonstrators.

In fact, one Antifa social-media message Sunday left the strong implication that the group had intended to take their destruction into suburban neighborhoods in Bellevue.

And now the officials in both cities will be pressed to explain to both business communities whose members will be assessing the extent of the damage, much of it dramatic, the inadequacy of police response but more importantly to create a strategy for the future.

Meanwhile, President Trump is, with apparent accuracy, blaming Antifa for much of the destruction in American cities across the country, while facing pushback from his opponents for his desire to officially declare them a terrorist group.

For those unaware, Antfa is described by the New York Times as being organized in "local autonomous cells around the country," adding that "though it is said to lack official leaders, it does have operatives who move across the country making mayhem."

And for those who might be tempted to pooh-pooh this information about Antifa leadership, here's a tweet that went out Sunday early afternoon:

"Alert. Tonight's the night comrades. Tonight we say 'f--- the city' and we move to the residential areas...the white hoods. And we take what's ours."

The tweet was retweeted 289 times and had 33 likes.

The Trump Justice Department has quickly branded Antifa a domestic terrorist group with a press release from Attorney General Bill Barr saying, "the violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly."

And Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz, a Democrat, acknowledged Saturday at a press conference: "The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd. It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear, and disrupting our great cities."

ISIS is the powerful, best known terrorist militant group in the world so when Bellevue business leader Michael Nassirian, attached the ISIS name to the mayhem, he may have set an appropriate stage for future planning on preparing for demonstrations and accompanying unrest.

Nassirian, an Iranian who became a top Microsoft executive before retiring to become an investor and leader in the Bellevue business community, gained some recent attention in the battle to help bring the economy back from its impact by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nassirian contracted COVID-19 and was bedridden for almost a week and soon set about seeking to create an app to provide employers and employees and customers current information before they interact, a step to aide re-opening the economy. He has named it "My Immunity Pass."

There has been considerable criticism starting to occur about the inability of the police in either city to avert or diminish the extent of the damage given the fact they had advance information.
And maybe particularly toward Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett spending more than half an hour visiting with the legitimate demonstrators while the thugs wreaked havoc inside Bellevue Square.

Nassirian, after being among business leaders who toured Bellevue Square and the Bravern Monday morning to assess the extensive damage, was quick to point out the those bent on mayhem were "well organized, well-funded, and had a solid communications infrastructure."
"Now isn't the time to point fingers to find blame but rather to commit to come together as a community and prepare for any such thing in the future," Nassirian said.

And it could happen that as Trump seeks to put together a full-fledged Justice Department effort to go after Antifa as a terrorist organization and withstand pushback from the inevitable concerns about privacy invasions, being able to use Nassirian's American ISIS brand could be a major asset.

Because officials in cities across the country are likely to understand that Antifa is as it seems to be, this weekend rioting and destruction won't be its last appearance.
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IRS needs strong pushback on PPP loans ruling

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Congress, our delegation taking the lead, needs to push back IRS on PPP loans

Many would argue that the Internal Revenue Service will screw the taxpayer whenever it means the tax agency can take in more money for its actions. But in the midst of the coronavirus and the CARES act tax treatment of loans designed by Congress to help businesses survive?

Seems so, according to information my Seattle accountant, Mark Long, distributed to his clients this week, following up on information sent out a few days ago by Bloomberg News Service and other business-information sites.

His email memo said that last week, the IRS issued an order "which substantially changes the tax treatment of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan program."

Long, of The Myers Associates, noted "the CARES Act explicitly states that the forgiveness of the loan is NOT taxable income."

"The IRS has concluded that while the forgiveness is not taxable income, the qualifying expenses (payroll, employee benefits, rent, etc.) will be non-deductible," Long said.  "The IRS Notice, therefore, does effectively make the forgiveness taxable income."

So the goal of discussing the issue here is that members of both the House and the Senate need to be pressed to push the IRS away from the table, in essence by nullifying the agency's decision, ideally in a high-visibility push back. The more public scrutiny and outcry on this the better.

And this state's Senators and members of Congress should be pressed to be in the forefront, and not with deliberative pace, but quickly.

PPP was established under the CARES Act. Operated by the Small Business Administration (SBA), it provides cash for two months of payroll costs. The measure, enacted by Congress in March, allows recipients to use the proceeds for payroll costs, employee healthcare benefits, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, utilities, and interest on any other debt. The loans do not have to be repaid if employers keep workers on the job or rehire laid-off workers.  

While the measure said the loan is not subject to taxes, it failed to let companies know whether they could still write off the expenses they covered with that money. In any other circumstance, IRS regulations allow companies to write off business expenses, such as wages, rent, and transportation expenses. The clarification adds the latest wrinkle, the news service noted.

It's a big difference," Long told me in an email. "And the biggest problem is that you have to make business decisions with minimal info.  If you want people to spend the entire PPP loan, then that's different than them spending part and holding part back to cover taxes."

The IRS Notice "is substantially different than all of the initial information released about the PPP program, and from what we have read, it is also contrary to the intent of the CARES Act legislation," Long added.  

At this time, it is unclear whether the IRS position will remain as stated in the Notice or if the Notice will be reversed.  It is also possible that a legislative fix is introduced.  However, it's quite possible this may not occur until after your 8-week loan forgiveness period is over."

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(Part 2/2) Reflecting on little-noted anniversary of Saigon's fall, Vietnam War

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(This is the second of two columns relating to the 45th anniversary of the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, that brought an end to the Vietnam War.)
 
As Joe Galloway shared with me his reflections of the horror and heroism in the Ia Drang Valley in 1965 that his book and the movie that followed helped make unforgettable, he talked of the medals and commendations that followed and it struck me the place perhaps should be remembered as The Valley of Valor.
 
Bruce CrandallBruce CrandallThe memories flowed out after I asked Galloway, who became one of the most respected correspondents who covered Vietnam, to share his thoughts with me as we marked, 45th anniversary of the fall of Saigon.
 
Those memories included the deeds of Bruce Crandall, now a Port Orchard resident, who was a hero of the battle and became Galloway's lifetime friend. In fact, Crandall was one of the interviewees when Galloway came to Seattle a few years ago for a week-long series of interviews that he conducted at KCPQ-TV studios.  

Major Crandall, then 32, led the 16 helicopters that transported troops to the Ia Drang battle zone. Then he and his wingman, Ed "Too Tall" Freeman, kept their Hueys returning, almost 20 times, to resupply and remove the wounded, recovering 75 casualties, and finally flying them out.  
 
Both were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for their valor at Ia Drang, but it was more than 40 years before these were upgraded to the Medals of Honor. Paperwork delays are described as the reason it took so long for the Medal to be awarded.
 
But it's pretty likely that Galloway's book "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young," co-written by the commanding officer of the Ia Drang troops, and the movie made from it played a role in their eventual recognition.  
 
Galloway noted that there were actually three Medals of Honor, the first to Second Lt. Walter Joseph (Joe) Marm, who was 24, like Joe. He was honored for
single-handedly destroying an enemy machine-gun position and several of its defenders while suffering severe wounds in the process. Marm was awarded the Medal of Honor a year after the battle  

Hal Moore, the then-lieutenant colonel who was commander of the U.S. Army forces at Ia Drang and who co-authored two books on the battle with Galloway, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the nation's second-highest honor.
 
And Galloway himself, who rescued a wounded soldier under fire, was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with "V" for valor. Galloway proudly noted in his email to me last week: "the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division and Gen. Moore personally pinned the Bronze Star Medal on my chest in front of a Standing Room Only audience of cheering troops in June 1998."
 
Explaining the valor that permeated that valley in the four days of fighting, Galloway noted: "quite a number of medal-worthy actions were never recognized because so many men were wounded and evacuated and so many others were at the end of their tours as draftees and rotated home."
 
As an intriguing sidelight, Galloway shared that "During the Clinton Administration, Moore and I worked to have Congress pass a bill opening the window for submission of duly drawn and recommended upgrades and awards of medals of valor. We originally intended to bypass statute of limitations for Ia Drang veterans only but Congress opened the window for ALL veterans ALL wars and left it open."

The UPI correspondent who welcomed Galloway to Vietnam and showed him then ropes was Ray Herndon, who joined UPI in early 1962 when he was also 24, and covered the final days of the Laos War before moving to Vietnam in 1963.

Herndon made his name as one of the "Boys of Saigon," a small cadre of journalists who chronicled the rebellion by Buddhist clergy against the authoritarian South Vietnamese regime, and America's increasing - though officially unacknowledged - military involvement in the region.
 
When Herndon first arrived, he was covering Kennedy's War, but as he recalled for me his thoughts for a column I did with him a decade ago, "I was here for the event that turned Kennedy's Vietnam involvement into Lyndon Johnson's war."

That event in early August of 1964 became known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, what the Johnson administration described as a sea clash between two U.S. destroyers and several North Vietnamese PT boats. It became the device that paved the way for the U.S. to begin sending combat troops to Vietnam.

Ray HerndonRay HerndonHerndon, who died of cancer in 2015 at the age of 77, was two years into a five-year stint covering Vietnam when the Tonkin Gulf incident occurred. He recalled that "there was a great deal of skepticism among the press corps in Saigon about the incident. The North Vietnamese were not stupid and it never made sense that they would attack a vastly superior naval force without provocation."

In fact, history would show that the incident likely never happened, at least as it was portrayed to serve Johnson's intended goal of certain Congressional support.


There was indeed little skepticism about it in Congress, where the resolution was approved with only two senators, Ernest Gruening of Alaska and Wayne Morse of Oregon, voting against it. That gave Johnson carte blanche to commit the American military to war in Vietnam.


Herndon was part of the string of the best and the brightest of reporters who spent time covering the Vietnam War.


When we visited, he was a couple of years away from the news business, having retired from the Los Angeles Times, he retained the honed skills of observation and perspective.


So when I asked Herndon about what he considered parallels or similarities between Vietnam and Afghanistan conflicts, which was then in much greater public prominence then it is now, this was his response:

"We really seem to have a knack for picking some terrible places to fight wars. Both Vietnam and Afghanistan have long and proud histories of tirelessly fighting to expel foreign armies. And winning."
 
Herndon, who followed his UPI tenure with editor roles in Florida, Dallas, and Los Angeles before retiring, noted that the Vietnamese fought against the Chinese for a thousand years, then defeated their French colonial occupiers before the U.S. made its own unsuccessful attempt."

"Afghanistan, for its part, was the first and only country that Alexander the Great couldn't conquer," Herndon said. "And Imperial Britain, which easily gobbled up the combined territory of India and Pakistan next door, somehow couldn't defeat the much smaller Afghanistan. And it wasn't for lack of trying."
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