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Egil Krogh's reflections on Watergate as "integrity lost" belonged in Gaslit miniseries

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There has to be a bemused reaction to the outpouring of national media interest, including from late-night TV personalities, to the eight-part Starz miniseries Gaslit, an off-beat approach to re-examining the nation’s most notorious political scandal, Watergate, through the formerly obscure character of Martha Mitchell, wife of President Nixon’s trusted insider, John Mitchell.

A key to the attention being generated for Gaslit, based on the 2017 first season of Leon Neyfakh’s Slate podcast Slow Burn and which premiered last Sunday, is clearly that Julia Roberts stars as Martha Mitchell, an unlikely whistleblower on the Watergate break-in that occurred 50 years ago next month, and Sean Penn plays her husband.

It’s unfortunate that nowhere among the many characters portrayed during the course of the series is there a place for Egil (Bud) Krogh, who was a young Seattle attorney who gained a seat at the center of power as assistant to Nixon's key advisor and former Seattle attorney John Ehrlichman and thus personal attorney and advisor to the President. Krogh took personal responsibility for Watergate and the evil that unfolded after it, all of which he blamed on a break-in he had orchestrated nine months earlier.

As I read about Gaslit and the half-century-old history it brings to light anew, I realized that a large portion of the population watching the series will be learning of the Mitchells and many of the other Watergate personalities for the first time, to no particular benefit except learning a bit of history.

But the story of Bud Krogh could provide a lesson in integrity that would have been valuable for all at a time when the word "integrity" is so remote from the current political climate that politicians who hear the word may not even know how to spell it and certainly not be able to define it.

For Bud Krogh, the lessons from the fall of a president echoed down the years less as a bitter memory than as a reminder of integrity lost. He felt it was important that the events of 1972 that led inexorably to the resignation of Richard Nixon two years later be kept ever in the minds of not only elected officials but also those who work for them
 
Egil Krogh's reflections on Watergate wereEgil KroghEgil Krogh
of Integrity Lost and could have been
a valuable part of the mini-series Gaslit

The series reminded me of a column I did a decade ago to mark the 40th anniversary of Watergate, a 2012 column that was an interview with Krogh, with whom I had become friends because of columns and a series of interviews I did with him before various audiences after we met in 2007.

The interviews and columns first occurred in 2008, 40 years after the 1968 campaign in which two other Washington State figures had key roles: then Gov Dan Evans, who was the keynoter at that year’s Republican National Convention, and mountaineer Jim Whittaker, who had become the closest aide to Sen. Robert Kennedy in the months of the campaign leading up to Bobby Kennedy’s assassination.
 
Krogh, who had just passed the bar in 1968 after graduating from law school at the University of Washington, actually didn't have a part in Nixon's campaign. Instead, being left to run the Seattle law practice of John Ehrlichman, the prominent Seattle attorney who helped engineer Nixon's general-election victory and became Nixon’s chief domestic advisor.
 
Krogh told me once with a chuckle that after the election, Ehrlichman returned to Seattle to close his law office and said to him, “how would you like to come back and work for the president?”

There is an Ehrlichman character in two of the eight Gaslit episodes
 
After the June 17, 1972, arrest of five people for breaking in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Washington, D.C., Watergate building investigators found that the perpetrators were connected to Nixon's re-election campaign, which was run by John Mitchell.
 
Krogh recalled for that 2012 column that even though he had moved from the White House to be Undersecretary of Transportation by then when he picked up the Washington Post that June morning in 1972 to read of the arrest of those who had been caught in the Watergate break-in, he said he recalled one thought: "My God, that's my fault."
 
The reason for that reaction was that as co-director of the White House special investigations unit called the "Plumbers," Krogh had nine months earlier, in September of 1971, approved a covert operation as part of a national security investigation into the leak of the top-secret Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.

The covert operation was a break-in at the office of Lewis Fielding, the psychiatrist for Daniel Ellsburg, who had released the Pentagon Papers. Krogh hired G. Gordon Liddy and H. Howard Hunt to do that break-in, the same men who were arrested at the Watergate break-in.
 
“I had made it seem that it was okay to do a break-in in the name of the President,” he told me to explain his sense of personal blame.
 
It's that certainty about his personal responsibility for what became Watergate, even though he knew nothing about the break-in before reading about it that morning, that guided his thinking and involvements through the following decades as a sort of personal quest for redemption.
 
His 2007 book, "Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices and Life Lessons from the White House," had a second run the month before I caught up with him by phone as he was en route toward a Pennsylvania speaking engagement and I asked him how the sales were going. "It's selling better now than at the beginning, he replied. “The issue of government integrity seems more relevant to people today," a comment that would obviously be at least equally true in 2022.
 
He also developed and was sharing a decision-making model he called The Integrity Zone, which was designed to help people make integrity-based choices in their professional and personal lives.
 
The dedication in his book, written with the help of his son, was a telling reflection of that lifelong campaign: "To those who deserved better, this book is offered as an apology, an explanation, and a way to keep integrity in the forefront of decision-making.”
 
The book itself details the lessons of Krogh's lifelong effort to make amends for what he describes as a "meltdown of personal integrity" in the face of issues of loyalty to the president and to the power of the office.
   
Krogh eventually went to prison for almost five months after pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy for engineering the break-in at Fielding's office.

He told me that Nixon had offered to pardon him but that he had pleaded "Please, Mr. President, if I ever hope to get to practice law again, I will need to have served my punishment."
 
Krogh recalled in several of our discussions over the half-dozen years we were friends, that after Nixon's resignation, his personal path toward reconciliation involved a visit with Fielding to apologize to him for what Krogh told him was "an unacceptable violation of the rights of a genuinely decent human being."
 
Then followed a visit with Nixon in California in which Krogh recalls basically saying: "Mr. President, I apologize to you because everything that's happened was really my fault."
 
Krogh left Seattle soon after that 2012 interview, he had returned to Washington to be a Senior Fellow on Ethics and leadership at the Center for Study of the Presidency and Congress and Counselor to the Director at the School of Ethics.
 
Reviewing the 2012 column and thus recalling his words and thoughts is what made me realize that the mini-series should have provided a role for Krogh, who died In January of 2020 at the age of 80.

An amusing close to this column is that Krogh once told me that even the famous meeting between Nixon and Elvis Presley, who wanted to help the President tackle the nation's drug problem, had an outcome that simply lacked integrity.
 
"Elvis asked if the president could get him a special badge from the bureau of narcotics and, even though he wasn't entitled to that kind of a badge, I told the president I'd get one," recalls Krogh, who had actually arranged the Elvis meeting. "Elvis not only got a badge, but he carried it for seven years and he simply shouldn't have had that badge."

Krogh told me that in arranging the 1970 meeting, he had needed to explain to Nixon who Elvis was!
 
A historical note is that at the time of our conversation he told me that of all the requests made each year to the National Archives for reproductions of photographs and documents, the one that was requested more than any other was the photograph of Elvis and Nixon shaking hands at that December 1970, visit. More requests than for copies of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

The Day Nixon met Elvis, published in 1974, was Krogh's other book, basically a picture journey through that day.
 
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Aggression in Ukraine ends 30-year ties between Washington State and Russia

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Watching Russia in a warlike and aggressor role in its unprovoked war on Ukraine has likely brought a mix of sadness and regret for those who recall the time in 1994 that Boris Yeltsin, first president of the Russian Federation, stood before a Seattle luncheon audience of 800 that included ambassadors from many nations and shared his vision of a special relationship between this state and his nation’s Far East.

The unlikely but real relationship between a state and one of the world’s most powerful nations that began to develop more than 30 years ago and reached a high point in the ‘90s came to a sad but necessary end last week as both the state of Washington and the non-profit Council for US-Russia Relations ended ties with Russia because of its military aggression against Ukraine.

carol vipermanCarol Viperman - Founder, Foundation for Russian-American Economic CooperationGov. Jay Inslee last week ordered state agencies to cut ties with Russian institutions and the Council for US-Russia Relations condemned the “military aggression by the Russian Federation against the Ukrainian sovereign nation and people,” adding ‘We call for the earliest cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of Russian Federation forces from Ukraine.”

Derek Norberg, President and Founder of the Council of U.S.-Russia Relations, and Executive Director of its subsidiary Russian American Pacific Partnership (RAPP) said in advising me of the council’s action last week: “We are unable to continue, given the current situation.”

Although there was a trio of important events in that special relationship, mainly an economic one, for Washington State and the Russian Federation, the relationship was guided over two decades mainly by the Seattle-based Foundation for Russian-American Economic Cooperation and its founder and president, Carol Vipperman.

The first of those special events was the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle, which were never envisioned to be held in Seattle when media mogul Ted Turner, troubled by the political boycotts of the Olympics by the U.S, in 1980 and by the U.S.S.R. in 1984, decided to sponsor an international sporting event. The first games were held in Moscow in 1986 with the second destined for the U.S. four years later.
 
Even before the Moscow games opened, sports promoter Bob Walsh created the Seattle Organizing Committee to bring the games to Seattle. On June 19, 1986, the Committee won the bid from Turner for the 1990 games, outdoing five other cities that had hoped to be selected, and Walsh began putting together a $180 million production.

Seattle hosted those second Goodwill Games in July and August of 1990. Thousands of athletes from nearly a hundred countries competed at local venues, including the UW, the Tacoma Dome, and Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center that was built for the games. By then the U.S.S.R., was mid-way through its three-year dissolution that resulted in the emergence of 15 independent republics, including Russia.

The Games’ keynote address, a very brief welcome, came from Ronald Reagan, who had finished his second term just 18 months earlier. The Cold War was then almost over with what President Reagan had once described as “the Evil Empire” on the brink of collapse.

It was actually the year prior to the Goodwill games that Vipperman, a Seattle marketing consultant, was invited to join a U.S. group invited to go to Moscow and Leningrad to look in on newly formed cooperatives designed to pursue U.S. business approaches. She returned and launched the Foundation.

 
Derek NorbergDerek Norberg - Founder, President Council of US-Russia Relations“Remember April of 1989,” Vipperman replied when I asked her what her expectations were informing the foundation. “It would be seven months before the wall fell. We felt if we could do business together we’d be less likely to go to war.”

Derek Norberg, founder, President Council of US-Russia Relations
 
And so for the next 22 years, FRAEC would be a leader in the quest to build economic ties between the two nations.

Ralph Munro, then-Secretary of State, actually went to Russia on a people-to-people mission in 1983, a time when the tensions in the relationship between our two countries were at a peak.

“The Russians thought we were going to wipe them out,” Munro recalled. “All they seemed to want to talk about with an American was how we were going to kill them. Then I ran across people who thought there was hope.”

Then a year following the Games, as business relationships were being pursued both in the Russian Far East mainland and on Sakhalin Island, Alaska Airlines decided to commence summer service to the port town of Magadan, and Khabarovsk, the largest city in the Far East. Alaska eventually extended its service to five cities in the rugged Far East of Russia.

It's worth noting that Seattle is 500 air miles closer to Magadon than Moscow is. Vipperman said, “The Alaska flights were meaningful to both sides.”

Munro recalled taking eight to 10 trips to the Russian Far East, including one on which he “took the first boxes of Washington State Pears to that region and they went crazy for them.”

In 1992 the new Russian Republic opened its first consulate office in the U.S. in Seattle, with what was described as “jubilation.” Chicago, with a large Russian population, had expected to be selected, but it was Seattle.

“We got the consulate, and they gave us a consul general, Georgiy Vlasken, a visionary guy who wanted to make things happen,” Munro said.

Vipperman recalled that Vlaskin was “a vegan vegetarian and never drank,” which brought back an amusing memory of my encounter with him when Vlaskin invited me and three of my editorial people to come to his Capitol Hill home for a get-acquainted lunch.

As the four of us sat down, Vlaskin poured a vodka for each of us and offered a toast. As he drank down his vodka, I did the same. Then he poured another and drank it down, so I did as well.

It was a day on which I had to drive to the airport for an afternoon flight to Spokane so I was a bit edgy when he poured a third vodka for both of us and drank his down. I carefully downed mine and told him that was all for me.

When I later related the incident to Vipperman, she laughed and informed me he always had water in his vodka glasses.

Washington State’s relationship soon grew to include most West Coast states and several in other parts of the country.

“The vision was originally for Washington State and we led states by a long way in trade and commerce,’ Norberg of the Council of U.S. Russia Relations told me. “And we had the only operating joint U.S.-Soviet joint venture company, Marine Resources Co. International,” a company with which Norberg held a variety of management positions in the 1990s.In the late 1980s, Norberg worked on Soviet fishing joint-ventures in U.S. waters off Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.

Ralph MunroRalph Munro - Former Secretary of StateNorberg’s Russian-American Pacific Partnership held its 26th annual meeting last July, a bilateral gathering that attracted 90 participants from both Washington, D.C., and Moscow as well as representatives from seven states and seven eastern Russian regions. Among presentations was one by John Sullivan, U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation, who said there are now some 1,100 U.S. companies operating in Russia.

Sullivan noted that “during times when our two governments do not see eye to eye on many issues, annual meetings like RAPP assume even greater importance. Such meetings between businesspeople, entrepreneurs, academics, and students, and regional and civic leaders serve to explore the many avenues for potential cooperation and provide ballast when the bilateral relationship is strained.”

Then came the Ukraine invasion. And that has left little but reflection.

“We have no interest in having anything to do with Russia now,” said Norberg. “I don’t think there’s going to be much return to anything normal. There’s no path for Russia to return, except without Putin.”

Alaska Airlines’ service to the Russian Far East was driven by both the pursuit of a business opportunity as well as our interest in building cultural ties between regions of the Far North,” said Joe Sprague, president of Horizon Air who was Alaska’s senior vice president for external relations when I did a column a few years ago recalling the Russian Far East service.

Alaska had to discontinue the connection in 1998 when the Russian economy collapsed. In an email to me for this column, Sprague said: “Regrettably, the business opportunity did not fully materialize and there were significant logistical challenges. It’s unfortunate because, as we see today, those bridges of understanding are more important than ever.”

Alaska’s innovative outreach to the Russian Far East actually went back almost two decades earlier, in the early ‘70s, when the Seattle-based carrier began charter service to the Soviet Union’s Siberia as a result of what has been described as “secret negotiations” between the airline and Soviet Authorities.

When the U.S. Department of State learned of the deal, it decided not to block the plan, indicating it didn’t want to create a negative response from the Soviet Union. It might also be assumed the agency wanted to avoid a negative response from Washington State’s two U.S. senators, Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson, then among the Senate’s most powerful members.

Joe Sprague - Horizon Air PresidentJoe Sprague - Horizon Air PresidentI have my own Russian memories since part of the Goodwill Games involved conferences and hosting Russians. Thus as the publisher of the Business Journal, I agreed to host a journalist. So Mikail (Misha) Bonderenko, a 39-year-old journalist who was actually the president of the young journalists of Europe, became not only part of the PSBJ staff for a couple of weeks, but also my family’s house guest.

Through him my wife and three kids had the unique experience of learning first hand about Russia and Russians since later Misha asked me if we would host his wife and 9-year-old daughter, Masha, and Dasha, who lived with us for a time as we introduced to the growing Russian community in the Seattle area.

Meanwhile, Misha and I created a Russian newsletter with the intent of keeping interested business people informed of developments in Russia.. But we couldn’t generate enough newsletter sales to keep him interested, in part because he had a career to build and I lost track of him.

Vipperman recalled for me winding down her organization in 2011 because funding, primarily from government sources, was winding down as relations between the two nations were deteriorating.

She recalled, “getting the most touching emails from people all over the world” when word of FRAEC’s closing spread.

But she said she remained hopeful about the future until returning from a photo workshop on Mt. Rainier “I turned the radio and the top item on the newscast was that Putin was going to run for president again in 2012.”

"I was glad no one was around to hear the four-letter words that spewed out," she chuckled.
 
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Dan Evans' long-awaited autobiography offers more than reflections

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The long-awaited autobiography of Daniel J. Evans, governor, U.S. senator, college president, and six-plus decades as a civic leader, was well worth the wait and offers more than a look at the deeds and accomplishments of a man who is viewed as likely the most important political figure in Washington state’s history.

It also offers the first broad telling of what may be one of the most intriguing civil rights stories never fully told before, one that I’m hopeful is destined to finally bring national recognition to Evans and Arthur Fletcher, the black political figure Evans reached out to in the late '60s and who went on to become the Father of Affirmative Action.

The autobiography gives an important historical look at the bright young professionals Evans describes as "a lively mix of lawyers, accountants, engineers, contractors, real estate developers and
businessman," a group basically composed of young republicans and Jaycees, whose leadership in the early 1950s included the creation of an organization called the Seattle Municipal League, whose grades for political candidates made it a prominent influence on local elections.

Its members, including Evans and a group of then age ‘30s professionals, all veterans, some of whom would become part of his political team a decade later, brought a political acumen that changed the face of a Seattle in which “city hall and the courthouse were patronage mills and where police winked at gambling and prostitution corruption. In addition Seattle merely looked on as its “burgeoning bedroom communities were dumping raw and partially treated sewage into Lake Washington at the rate of 20 million gallons a day.”

Dan EvansDan EvansThat group of young professionals who would change Seattle included future congressman and lieutenant governor Joel Pritchard and future attorney general and U.S. Senator Slade Gorton. And Jim Ellis, the young attorney whose half-century of citizen activism included cleaning up Lake Washington and voter approval of his Forward Thrust bond package that included The Kingdome, that provided a home for the baseball Mariners and pro football Seahawks when those teams came into existence.

I chuckled at the likely reaction of Seattle’s current emerging political and civic leaders to learn that it was a cadre of young Republicans who were the city’s first civic movers and shakers.

In the late ‘60s, after Evans had been elected governor, the second youth cadre he nurtured sprang from the ranks of young Republicans. The following passage from the biography indicates how the stage was set for the emergence of Fletcher.
 
"Sam Reed (who later became a three-term Secretary of State) and Chris Bayley, two of the brightest young guys I’d ever met, launched a political action movement in 1968 that harnessed the restless energy of a new generation of moderate Republicans. They were frustrated by Vietnam and passionate about civil rights.

"'Action for Washington' was the genesis of today’s Mainstream Republicans of Washington. Back then they called themselves 'Dan Evans Republicans.' For me, it was an honor and a responsibility rolled into one.
   
"Christopher T. Bayley, a descendant of one of Seattle’s most respected old-line families, arrived back home with a law degree from Harvard in 1966. Sam Sumner Reed, the grandson of Wenatchee’s leading lawyer, became executive director of my Urban Affairs Council in 1967 after receiving a master’s degree in political science from Washington State University.

"Bayley, 29, landed at Perkins Coie, a top Seattle law firm. He had extensive contacts among King County’s politically ambitious young reformers, not to mention large donors. Reed, 27, had founded the College Republican League of Washington in the fall of 1967. He knew energetic young Republicans on campuses around the state."

Evans recalls one of Reed’s first assignments as an intern in the governor's office was to work with Secretary of State Lud Kramer, House GOP leader Slade Gorton, and Seattle civic activist Jim Ellis to draft an urban affairs report.

When Reed met Pasco City Councilman Art Fletcher he saw a rising star. A football star at Washburn University in Kansas, and the first black player on the old Baltimore Colts team in 1950, Fletcher organized a community self-help program in predominantly black East Pasco after moving to the Tri-Cities to work at the Hanford nuclear site. Fletcher radiated charisma.

As Evans wrote: "The Reed-Bayley masterstroke was to create the first, and to date only, effective party ticket in Washington State history. They dubbed us 'The Action Team for an action time.' Each flier, full-page ad, and TV spot featured our foursome, three young white men and one black, as Evans noted, “striding forward side by side with clean-cut confidence.”

Arthur Fletcher had already built a reputation in other parts of the country for activities that set him on the road to becoming a political anomaly as a Republican civil rights activist. Evans viewed him as the type of political leader who could bridge racial differences at a time of high local and national racial tensions.

I had the good fortune, as UPI's state political editor in Olympia, to meet and interview Fletcher in early 1968 after Evans’ press secretary, Neil McReynolds, flagged me about “this cool guy in the Tri-Cities whom Dan has been very impressed with.” Soon other Puget Sound area reporters also wrote about him, which helped propel him into an attention-getting role with Washington voters.
 
Evans, an engineer by education, engineered the fletcher role in the quest, with enthusiastic support, for the lieutenant governor's race against popular Democratic incumbent John Cherberg. In the end, he lost.
 
At the 1968 Republican National Convention, for which Evans was the keynoter, Fletcher had a role promoting his self-help philosophy to an audience eager to attract black voters. Among those drawn to Fletcher's convention message was Nixon himself.
 
Soon after taking office, Nixon appointed Fletcher Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards. With responsibility for the wage and hour regulations for the nation's workforce and supervision of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance, Fletcher now had the power to revoke federal contracts and debar contractors from bidding on future work.
 
On June 27, 1969, Fletcher implemented the nation's first federal affirmative action program, which required federal contractors to meet specified goals in minority hiring for skilled jobs in the notoriously segregated construction industry.
 
But after two years, Fletcher's affirmative action programs had earned him so much enmity among the leaders of the skilled construction unions that he was forced to resign.
President Nixon gave him a brief assignment on the United Nations delegation under Ambassador George H.W. Bush, which began the friendship that would take Fletcher's political career to even greater heights.
 
He went on to serve in the administrations of Ford, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush and became known as the “father of affirmative action.” Fletcher headed the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and as president of the United Negro College Fund coined the phrase “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
 
“Those were remarkable achievements,” Evans has said to me on several occasions in recent years as we discussed Fletcher. “But how I wish Washington could have been the first state in the union since Reconstruction to elect an African-American governor. That would have been a proud boast.”
 
When Evans shared with me passages about Fletcher from his autobiography four years ago, he said: "I'm confident that if Art Fletcher had been elected lieutenant governor he would have succeeded me, perhaps in 1977. In any case, sooner rather than later."
 
"He later had remarkable achievements, but how I wish Washington could have been the first state in the union since Reconstruction to elect an African-American governor. That would have been a proud boast. It could have had a huge impact on race relations and who knows how history could have changed.”

Evans' reflections on Fletcher, with whom he remained friends until his death in 2005, have been key parts of interviews I’ve done with Evans in the past couple of years, two at the Columbia Tower Club, including in fall of 2019 and another last fall for Seattle Rotary, done remotely since the club wasn’t having live programs that month.
Regular readers of The Harp may recall a column I did four years ago on the Evans-Fletcher story, a half-century anniversary piece, As I wrote it, I realized that 1,700 readers were a dramatically small number to know about the story.

So I reached out to Mark Higgins, assistant editorial page editor of the Seattle Times, to offer him the column and he first explained that The Times doesn’t run a piece that has already appeared as a column elsewhere.
But he soon decided, on reflection, and much to his credit, that the Evans-Fletcher story deserved being brought to The Times readership. So the Harp appeared as an op-ed piece under the headline: ‘Remembering Arthur Fletcher, the father of Affirmative Action.”
 
In fact, in terms of national visibility, if you search Wikipedia for Fletcher, there’s a brief look at his accomplishments. And there is one media source reference. Seattle Times: Remembering Arthur Fletcher, Father of Affirmative Action (Mike Flynn, Nov. 11, 20128)

John Hughes, former editor, and publisher of the Aberdeen World, who edited the autobiography, remembers meeting Evans in Olympia in 1966 when he was a reporter for The World.

He told me he began helping Evans five years ago, noting that at the time Evans had written about 300,000 words but the manuscript ended when he left the U.S, Senate in 1989.

"I'd liken my role in Dan's marvelous book to that of a consulting structural engineer. (Ever the engineer, that line will make Dan smile)."

Hughes, now chief historian with Legacy Washington in the Secretary of State's office, recalls "Almost exactly a year ago, Secretary of State Kim Wyman asked me how Dan was doing on the book. Sighing, I said it was still unfinished. Then in a spontaneous moment, I suggested we help him finish the narrative and publish the autobiography as a Legacy book. 'Absolutely!' she said."
 
"From February to October, I conducted oral history interviews with Dan to speed up the process. He'd review the transcripts, then I'd weave them into chapters."

"I think it's a hugely important book, particularly at this moment in our political history.
Dan's memorable declaration that he 'would rather cross the political aisle than cross the people' reminds us that politics doesn't have to be fear and loathing."

Now as national book reviewers get their copies, I'm hopeful they'll focus on the Evans-Fletcher segment.

Then perhaps my goal of seeing some ongoing national recognition come about for what their relationship meant, both in Evans' original goal and the way it paved the road for Fletcher's future, will begin attracting attention in high levels.

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Decade-old law to halt insider trading by members of Congress drawing some renewed attention

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At a time when Congress is poisoned by political animosity and divisiveness on most issues, there’s suddenly conversation that lawmakers should address the issue of the law-breaking they are permitting from many members’ stock-market involvement.
 
Law-breaking? Well, there’s a law in place, largely the work of former Washington Congressman Brian Baird, called the STOCK Act. The measure, appropriately titled Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, was designed to make insider trading by members of Congress illegal and force more transparency in their financial dealings.
 
The issue has stirred some attention in recent weeks, including an intraparty squabble instead of the now-usual partisan shouting.
 
Brian BairdBrian BairdUnfortunately, there are some compelling issues like hearings on the January 6 insurrection, struggles over voting rights, and discussion over political views on violence that have created gaping divisions almost totally partisan that challenge interparty discussion on other important issues like member financial dealings.
 
But disclosures by the global online media company Insider of the dozens of violations of the STOCK Act, and thus the law, sparked the exchange among Democrats over stock ownership and maybe created an issue that can attract focus from lawmakers in both parties.
 
The disclosures prompted Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex to suggest members of Congress should be barred from trading and holding stock, even individual shares. That set off House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who scoffed at the idea, saying “We’re a free market economy and they (members of Congress and spouses) should be able to participate in that.”
 
It’s worth recalling that it was Pelosi’s ineptitude in 2011 with questions on the stock-ownership issue from a reporter for 60-minutes and a public reaction it caused that helped push Congress to quickly take up and pass the STOCK Act in 2012. That quick action to pass the bill in the face of public outcry came after six years of Baird unsuccessfully pressing for consideration or even support.
 
So perhaps the 10th anniversary of the passage of the STOCK Act and recalling the manner in which intense public pressure brought about its passage might prompt a revisiting, particularly with a recent focus on its failings in terms of sufficient penalties for violators.

I reached out to Baird, the former congressman from Washington’s third district and now an Edmonds resident, for his thoughts.

“The penalty for insider trading by a member of Congress should be no less than that kind of trading by a corporate insider,” he said. “It is a flagrant abuse of power and trust that not only distorts markets but undermines the public’s faith in their government. That warrants very serious consequences in my judgment.”

 Ironically and unfortunately, since Baird, now 65, didn’t seek re-election in 2010, he had been out of office nearly a year when the telling CBS segment aired to set the stage for a rush by Congress to pass the bill.
 
Here is a section from a November 2011 column I wrote after the CBS program aired.
 
“During the last three of his six terms representing the state's 3rd District, Democrat Baird sought unsuccessfully to pass, or even just gather support for, what he called the Stock Act. It would have barred members of Congress from doing stock transactions in areas they regulate, in essence, prohibiting their investing in a manner that those in the real world call Insider Trading
 
 “For ordinary citizens, reaction to Baird's proposal would be a laughable ‘well, of course’ But in a place whose mantra is ‘the rules we make for you don't apply to us,’ seeking to force action by the lawmakers on one small, self-imposed ethical constraint could become a rallying point for a fed-up public.
 
“The thrust of the CBS segment that aired this month is that lawmakers often do make stock purchases and trades in the very fields they regulate. While ordinary citizens could be jailed for engaging in the kind of investment shenanigans that those in Congress involve themselves in, there's not even an ethical concern among lawmakers.
 
“And a sure way to take this worthwhile campaign viral is to share in every possible social-media fashion 60 Minutes reporter Steve Croft's questioning of current House Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi at their respective news conferences.
 
Viewers of the ineptitude with which both Boehner and Pelosi tried to answer Croft's questions about whether their investment practices were at least conflicts of interest were irate.
 
Pelosi was unforgettable, stuttering ‘you…you wouldn’t suggest I’d do anything that was not in the best interest of my constituents?’ The thought that had to occur was ‘Who elects these people?’ The answer, unfortunately, is people like us elect them. Shame on us.”
 
The kind of stock-market activity that Croft pointed out included Boehner, now retired, having bought a bunch of health-care-related stock during the healthcare reform debate of 2009. And when Boehner's efforts to kill the so-called "public option" succeeded, those stocks skyrocketed.
 
Pelosi, meanwhile, had gotten in on a series of lucrative stock Initial Public Offerings. One of those involved an enormous number of Visa shares that Pelosi purchased while she was working on legislation that would have hurt credit card companies. Two days after purchasing the stock at $44 a share, and after the bill was put on long-term hold, Pelosi's stock shot up to $64 a share.”
 
After the program aired and the public reaction to it shocked members of Congress, lawmakers rushed to get their names on the bill once it was introduced in January in both house and Senate.
 
It was the 2012 bill introduced in the Senate by outgoing Sen. Joseph Liberman that added a name to Baird’s Stock act, Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act. It passed the House in February with only two dissenting votes and in April in the Senate with three dissenters.
 
I asked Baird this week to reflect on what’s happened since including the impact disclosures under the act’s reporting requirements had on the two Georgia Senate races in 2020 whose outcome determined control of the Senate.
Actually, the role played by the STOCK Act in the defeats of Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, both Republicans, that this gave the Democrats Senate control was significant visibility for certain stock trades they made. That visibility came at a time when the suffering caused by the pandemic and the widespread economic hardship of the average Georgians were viewed as playing in the outcomes.
 
“Unfortunately many members are flagrantly disregarding the STOCK Act,” Baird said. “Rand Paul, for example, did not file in anything near the required time and that fact only became known after the election.”
 
“This has to change through more stringent enforcement and serious consequences for violations,” Baird added. “Enforcement should be through a combined process of the SEC as an external entity and the internal ethics mechanisms of the Congress. It may be necessary to create an independent review body.”  
 
Maybe the 10th anniversary of the STOCK Act may occasion some focused discussion on how it's doing. Or not doing.
 
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Archival-video business would save messages for military families

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The idea of preserving the voice and video presence of every U.S. service member killed in action led Sandy Wheeler to create an archival video platform that would allow those whose military service leads to the ultimate sacrifice to have preserved, before their departure for a battle zone that may be well known or top secret, their legacies for family members left behind, and even those not yet born.
 
“We would hope to make it part of their pre-deployment requirement that they create for their loved ones and family members short video messages that will go into the archives,” said Wheeler, a Vietnam veteran who returned to civilian life in 1970, graduated from what was then Central Washington College and began what he expected would be an accounting career.
 
But a decade later Wheeler, now 74 and a Wenatchee resident, turned to be an entrepreneur, founding and presiding over the founding and growth of one of the best-known exercise-equipment companies, Bowflex, and its acquisition of Nautilus as well as Schwinn Fitness and Stairmaster.
 
Wheeler says the idea for memory-carrying time capsules was planted when he arrived home from his 18-month tour in Vietnam expecting to connect with one of his best friends, Dennis, who was to be discharged two weeks after him and also head home. But he learned that Dennis had been killed in action two days before his discharge.

“Simply unbelievable. Dennis’ baby boy would never see his father and his wife would never see him alive again,” Wheeler said.

Sandy WheelerSandy Wheeler“That was truly the point in time that this vision took root,” Wheeler said. “I was sick with grief that this baby boy would never get to hear his daddy's voice, play ball, wrestle or do any of the things little boys desire and need.”

Fast forward to this past August as the U.S, involvement in Afghanistan wound down and two events served to cement in Wheeler’s mind the power behind the vision, and the need for the time capsules.
 
First was an incident related to him by a friend in the Seals who had a close friend, Lou, who was among the 22 Seals killed, along with eight other U.S, troops when their helicopter was shot down on August 21 in Afghanistan.
 
“Lou left a wife and two little boys, 7 and 9, behind,” related Wheeler. “But something else he left behind cemented in my mind the power behind this vision. Lou had a fellow Team member film a video of him on August 6 that was to be sent to his wife and boys IF he was killed in action. At Lou’s funeral, his wife played the video messages for all to see and there was not a dry eye in the place.”
 
“Finally, on August 26, 2021, our whole nation watched in horror as 12 Marines and one Navy Corpsman were killed in Afghanistan and their loved ones would be left in shock with no chance to say goodbye,” said Wheeler. “I then knew this vision had to move forward and launched it with two other co-founders.”

The first group Wheeler hopes to target with his TimeCapsules Corp., for which as CEO he is now in fundraising mode, is the 75,000 or so members of the various Special Operations (Special Ops) units spread across the armed forces, troops ranging from reconnaissance and counter-terrorism typically conducted by small groups of highly trained personnel like Army green berets and rangers and Navy Seals. Those are all grouped under what is commonly referred to as special forces.

“The deaths of the 12 marines and the navy corpsman killed in the suicide bombing attack on the airport in Kabul made me realize how important it might have been for their families to have videos of their dead service member, to hear them say "I love you" and they could listen a million times,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler's first step with his business is a crowd-funding effort to raise $350,000 to complete the technical aspects of the capsule and provide first-year operating costs. Then, having filed a Reg-D, he will go after qualified investors seeking to gain equity shares and looking to an exit strategy.

“We are now working on the app and finishing the buildout of the encryption stuff,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler's knowledge of how to grow a business is indicated by his exercise-equipment venture. He launched Bowflex in 1985, taking the role of marketing vice president and fundraiser, then guiding the purchase of Nautilus as well as Schwinn fitness and Stairmaster in the '90s, using the name Nautilus for the collective businesses. Then he took the companies to the NYSE under the symbol NLS, completing the growth from zero sales to more than a half-billion dollars.

Wheeler emphasizes the importance of family to him. He and his wife, Dianna, celebrated their 50th anniversary in July, and the day we talked, he was heading off with his grandson to drive to Nebraska to go deer hunting.
.
“Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM), which has three or four special ops groups, would be our first target, then Fairchild near Spokane, then once we have all special ops, move on to regular military, to all reserve and eventually national guard members, whose lives are on the line if they are called up.”

It’s intriguing that Wheeler’s project starts with a part of the military that frequently operates in secret so most Americans are not even aware there are members of the military who are on assignments that, at any given moment, can be in life or death situations.

“The time capsule will allow any member of the military to leave something for any future calendar date they wish and for any reason, even 20 to 30 years into the future, and the system knows the disbursement date,” Wheeler explained. “Those for whom a message is left will have a disbursement date that could be like to a granddaughter on her wedding day saying in a video capsule ‘grandpa would love to be with you on this special day.’”

Wheeler’s time in Vietnam included an incident that brought home to him personally the importance of communication with loved ones, an incident he shared with a chuckle.
 
He recalled that he sent a letter each week to his mother, “sometimes even just a quick note, like ‘send cookies,’ but it was every week.”
 
“Then I got sent on a secret mission to Laos or Cambodia, a mission where you didn’t even take your dog tags let alone communicate,” he said.
 
“So when my mom didn’t get her letters, she called the Red Cross and her concern eventually came to the attention of an admiral who called me in when I returned and he said ‘we can’t have your mom calling the Red Cross. Next time you leave me a series of letters to send to her and I’ll take care of it.’”

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Tale of two cities and debate over a region's name

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The congenial disagreements that I've had over the past couple of years with my friend John Powers, longtime economic development leader in this area, about our respective views of Seattle's future role in the region took on a bit of a new spin as a result of last week's Seattle elections.

In some respects, our discussions reflect primarily on who Seattle was, and its likely comeback, vs. a changing workplace dynamic and its maybe not comeback might be the tale of two cities.

Powers, whom I met 20 years ago when he was mayor of my hometown of Spokane and who then came to Seattle to head the King County economic development organization that he renamed Enterprise Seattle, has contended that despite the growth of the surrounding communities and counties, this region needs to remain "the Greater Seattle" area.

I have contended that it's time to focus on the fact this is the "Puget Sound Area," with the image of Seattle declining, and marketing material should acknowledge a Puget Sound designation.

John PowersJohn PowersBut the Seattle election results that suggest moderates may again be in the ascendancy in Seattle may have changed the tone of my conversations with Powers, who actually became a client of mine for a time after I retired as publisher of Puget Sound Business Journal and he was lured away from Enterprise Seattle to run Colliers International's Northwest operation. We've stayed close since then.

My view had seemed to gather greater credibility when Amazon CEO Andy Jassey, obviously throwing down the gauntlet to Seattle, told the Geekwire summit in early October: "We don't view Seattle as our HQ1 any longer. We view it as Puget Sound."

Jassy wasn't taking part in that "what should we call our region" discussion. But he might have been when he commented: "Bellevue, just east of Seattle, is where most of our growth will end up being." He added that he wouldn't be surprised if Amazon opened other offices in additional cities in the region.

But soon after Jassey's comments came last week's mayoral and a city council race and, of all things, a city attorney contest involving a former Republican who won. That allowed us to agree that, in Powers' words, it was "absolutely heartening" to see Bruce Harrell's overwhelming victory in the race to be Seattle's next mayor and the sense of the city's moderates emerging to actually make their voices heard.

For business and civic leaders in communities across Puget Sound who may have become convinced that the Seattle they watched warily over the past several years was on the verge of becoming a city living on the memories of yesterday's accomplishments, those Seattle election results had to bring a collective sigh of relief.

There was a particular satisfaction in seeing the photo of Harrell, son of a black father and Japanese mother, standing next to a hugely smiling Norm Rice, the black leader whose two successful terms as mayor saw him build back downtown, improve schools and reinvigorate neighborhoods.

Powers summed it up for me thus: "Bruce Harrell's Election bodes well for the entire region as 'Seattle Together' begins to tackle big challenges and moves forward to regain its footing and credibility. It will take time - resources - and a strong political consensus as well as the will to turn the situation around - but I do believe Mayor Harrell's election will be seen as the event that was the beginning of the turnaround."

But careful about giving way to optimism too soon, I told Powers in a post-election conversation. We have to see how Harrell as mayor handles the pushback that is sure to come from the group of city council members furthest on the political left, considerably to the left of Harrell.

It's pretty clear that the greatest opposition to Harrell is likely to come from council member Kshama Sawant. But then Powers offered: "Sawant's voice is going to grow feinter not louder." And she may be recalled in a vote on December 7.

And I suggested to Powers, who retired a year ago after nine years guiding the Kitsap Economic Development organization and moved home to Spokane, that Jassey may have inadvertently opened the door to that "Greater Seattle" vs. Puget Sound Area" discussion.

The elections were one of the things that have loomed on the horizon to determine what the future holds for Seattle's long dominance in the region's identity. The other, which hasn't gotten a lot of attention yet with the elections dominating the discussion, is the yet-to-be-released census data.

If the census data, to be distributed in depth before year-end, shows dramatic comparative growth of the Eastside vs, Seattle, it may require rethinking from both political and resource-allocation standpoints of the relative impact of the city vs. its Eastside suburbs.

The region is flush with communities whose ties with each other are at least as important to them as ties with Seattle, much as with the array of individual cities surrounding the Bay Area, which of course is a designation that has come to be globally recognized, as would The Puget Sound Area become.

In fact, I'd submit that the idea has been made much more logical by the post-COVID phenomenon of remote work, which is allowing a large percentage of workers once office-bound five days a week to now choose what appealing place they want to live. And it's likely to be true that communities around Puget Sound, along with more distant and more rural locations, will be in the running to create strategies to lure those remote workers.

And it's already clear that far fewer employees are likely to be working downtown, leaving a central Seattle that may well be far less a "where it's at" business community than it was accustomed to being in the pre-COVID time.

And it was amusing to see the PSBJ struggle over the "what's the name" issue over the weekend when under a headline that read "Seattle region office market's rent growth is tops in North America," the reporter wrote, "The Puget Sound region ranked No. 1 among North America's 30 leading tech markets for office rent growth."

Among those I visited with on the regional-name topic, I thought the best summing up for my side of the discussion came from a retired newspaperman, Peter Horvitz, who owned and was publisher for several decades of the Eastside Journal and the South County Journal, before succumbing to the inability to create a successful daily competitor of the Seattle Times. He thus understood the east-west competition in a more personal way than most business people on either side.

His summation of "the center of gravity has shifted away from Seattle" would draw a knowing acknowledgment from Eastside business leaders and a likely closed-lipped, reluctant lifting of eyebrows from many Seattle business leaders

"Despite what Seattle thinks, the growth has moved and won't be stopped," offered Horvitz, who himself moved with his wife recently to Florida. "It's important for people in positions of influence in the area to recognize the role the Eastside has come to play, a role that requires a rethinking of allocation of resources and where the political power rests."

And as with most Seattle vs. Eastside ideas, I had to ask Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, despite the fact that in repeated attempts over the years, I've never been able to get him to wax critical of Seattle, inevitably telling me "the leaders of Seattle were all friends of mine. I had dinner at their homes."

Of course, that reluctance to criticize has never extended to Seattle-born ideas that would impact the rest of the region, as with ST3, the light rail program for the region, the most expensive transportation program ever undertaken in the nation. Freeman paid for piles of research trying to defeat ST3 with the message it would never attract enough riders to cover the costs.

And merely because it will actually be completed doesn't mean Freeman might not be right in the end, particularly if remote work significantly decreases the number of people heading to downtown offices.

But Freeman did tell me for this column, "I can't explain how they've lost all the things that made Seattle great."

Then comes a vote for Powers' view from John Oppenheimer, founder, and CEO of Columbia Hospitality, the Seattle management and consulting company with a portfolio of more than 40 properties, hotels, restaurants, conference centers, and golf courses, in two dozen different communities, many of which could likely become remote-work success stories.

Thus he could be the region's key beneficiary of the growth of the remote-work phenomenon and the rise of Zoom Towns far from urban centers, although since his firm operates the World Trade Center as well as Port of Seattle conference facilities and owns part of the Four Seasons Hotel,

Oppenheimer would prefer to have economic health occur for both downtown and distant towns. And as he told me, "I'm very optimistic about downtown. Yes, we've had a period of shakeup, but the number of people moving downtown is increasing, the number of new apartment units is increasing and the inventory is on the rise. And the new convention center will add to the need for downtown."

I thought the best close for this column was to relate what's come to be a growing recognition of those from around the region, outside of Seattle, who, when in meetings in other parts of the country now note that when they say they are from Seattle, they catch themselves and correct if they are actually from Bellevue or Redmond, for example.

And one business person chuckled as he related an incident at the Canadian border as the border agent asked where he was from while looking at his driver's license. "Seattle," came the reply. "Then why does your license say Bellevue?"
 
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Dan Evans' memoirs may include little-known facts of his major contribution

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As Dan Evans finalizes the long-awaited publication of the memoirs of his six-plus decades of public service, I’m not alone in hoping that what could be his most important contribution, heretofore virtually unknown, may finally get the visibility it merits. The timing couldn’t be more appropriate.

I’m not referring to his political contributions, which would themselves fill his book. Rather I am referring to his effort more than a half-century ago, along with two other prominent state Republican elected officials, to hatch a plan they hoped would lead to the election of Arthur Fletcher as the first black governor since reconstruction.

Dan EvansDan EvansEvans, a three-term governor and one-term U.S, Senator was my guest this week for an unusual interview, originally intended to be a live interview before Seattle 4 Rotary Club. After the Rotary Club decided not to do live interviews this month, Evans and I did a recorded interview before an audience at the Columbia Tower Club for replay to Rotary the following day.

During the interview, I asked Evans both about the progress of his long-awaited memoirs and the coverage in the book of the strategy he guided to accelerate the political career of an unknown black politician on a path designed to lead to the governorship.

“Hope to have it out before the Christmas rush,” Evans said with a chuckle of the memoirs, title yet to come. He said he’s at the final editing stage, “putting my initials on each page as final approval.”

“And yes, there’s a substantial section about Art Fletcher,’ he added. "And about his eventual role as the Father of Affirmative Action."

Fletcher, a football star at little Washburn University in Kansas who joined the original Baltimore Colts in 1950 as the franchise's first black player, had already built a reputation in other parts of the country for his activities as a political anomaly, a Republican civil-rights advocate.

I’ve often felt, since I first learned years ago of this one-of-a-kind plot by a group of Republican state elected officials guided by their governor to set the stage for the election of a black man as governor that it merited national visibility, particularly at this time.

Regular readers of The Harp may recall a column I did two years ago on the Evans-Fletcher story, As I wrote it, I realized that 1,700 readers were a dramatically small number to know about the story. So I reached out to Mark Higgins, assistant editorial page editor of the Seattle Times, to offer him the column and he first explained that The Times doesn’t run a piece that has already appeared as a column elsewhere.

But he soon decided, on reflection, that the Evans-Fletcher story deserved being brought to The Times readership. So the Harp appeared as an op-ed piece under the headline: ‘Remembering Arthur Fletcher, the father of Affirmative Action.”

Now my hope is that reviewers of Evans’ memoirs will focus on, or be directed to, the Fletcher portion of the book and that a broad, maybe national, audience will learn the story and begin to think of ways to credit Evans for posterity. And also Fletcher for his role fulfilling the hope held out for him.

I have asked Evans on several occasions why he hatched the plan and he has explained how he first met and became impressed with Fletcher, who had founded a self-help cooperative in the largely black community of East Pasco.

Art FletcherArt FletcherEvans recalled his first meeting with Fletcher: "a big man, and former pro football player who carried a commanding presence and spoke with conviction in his resonating baritone voice."

Remember the timing of Evans’ strategy for Fletcher. Not unlike the 2020 Summer of Discontent, the riots in cities across America over the ‘60s grew out of black poverty and joblessness, and police brutality.

But the rioters’ rally cry of “Burn Baby, Burn” was far more ominous than the marches and demonstrations, mostly peaceful (except where thugs came along in some demonstrations burning and looting), under the banner and to the cries of Black Lives Matter.

As keynoter at the 1968 Republican convention in Miami, Evans’ message was that the time was right “to touch the troubled spirit of America,” alluding to the demonstrations opposing the Vietnam War as well as the racial unrest. But of the latter, Evans told the delegates it was time to resolve "the crisis in the main streets of America--a crisis of violence and stolen hope.”

The plan for Fletcher was already underway at that point to have him run for lieutenant governor.

As Evans once said to me on another occasion of Fletcher's possible election: "It could have had a huge impact on race relations and who knows how history could have changed. He was a remarkable man and one I admired immensely."

And the campaign poster picturing four young members of the Republican team seeking statewide office, all in their early 40’s, 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.

Had he been elected lieutenant governor, he would have been in a position to seek the governor’s office to subsequently replace Evans.

In the end, Fletcher lost the election to popular incumbent John Cherberg, though Evans told the audience at our interview that he lost by only a few points and the difference was the King County vote.

Fletcher had gained exposure at the GOP convention speaking to promote his self-help philosophy to an audience eager to attract black voters.

Among those attracted to Fletcher’s message was Nixon himself and after the election, Nixon appointed Fletcher Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards. His responsibilities included wage and hour regulations for the nation’s workforce and supervision of the Office of Federal Contracts Compliance.

So on June 27, 1969, Fletcher implemented the nation’s first federal affirmative action program that required federal contractors to meet specific goals in minority hiring for skilled jobs in the nation’s notoriously segregated construction industry.

But after two years, Fletcher’s affirmative action programs had earned him so much opposition among the leaders of the skilled construction unions that he was forced to resign.

However, Fletcher went on to serve in the administrations of presidents Ford, Reagan, and George H.W, Bush and became known as “the father of affirmative action.”

My hope is that as the Evans-Fletcher story might reach a broad, national audience, that there would be a move to honor both for this unique political story. Maybe somehow together.

The challenge could be that such an effort on behalf of two Republicans would likely need to commence in their home state, home to a democratic legislature, Democratic governor, and two Democratic U.S. senators.

On the other hand, it might be an appropriate opportunity to see if doing what’s right ever transcends what’s merely right and correct politically.
 
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Election laws rewriting draws ire of state's GOP secretaries of state

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Two experienced women head Bellevue first-responder groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The ones I knew were fearless in combat and determined to get the story. I raise my Stetson in salute "
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Virtual event to celebrate 20 who rose to COVID challenge in innovative ways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dept-of-labor-seal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are there any boomtowns that could be likely ZoomTowns?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Quest for 20 to honor for COVID creativity and caring strategies

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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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Kirkland company's plan for rail-car energy-storage concept fuels renewable-energy interest

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The decade-long quest of two Seattle businessmen and the team of prominent investors they have attracted to create a unique new method for generating renewable energy is about to bear fruit in the form of rock-filled rail cars plying a Southern Nevada mountain.

Advanced Rail Energy Storage North America (ARES) is the Kirkland-based company that Spike Anderson, self-described “serial entrepreneur,” and Seattle attorney Art Harrigan created to funnel the millions of dollars they raised over the last 10 years to bring the project to fruition.

Howard TrottThe ARES Nevada project, located near Pahrump, about 60 miles west of Las Vegas, is the first of what they expect will be a series of similar energy-generating projects around the country, to help states meet their increasingly stringent renewable-energy goals.

“Those renewable-energy goals are not merely for the states, but are for the planet,” Anderson offered in a reference to the broader and increasingly pervasive issue of climate change that clean, renewable-energy initiatives are seeking to address.

For example, the broad success of ARES’ concept could eliminate the need for any more hydroelectric projects, and perhaps end the need for some existing hydro projects.

It’s likely the broader global goal is behind the commitment of time and money that Anderson and Harrigan, as well as retired Costco CEO Jim Sinegal and Car Toys founder Dan Bretler have committed.

Add to those names two key executives of a Denver conglomerate, Thermo Companies. Thermo was attracted as a major financial partner because of a business relationship between ARES North America CEO Howard Trott and Jay Monroe, who guides some of the numerous companies under the Thermo corporate umbrella. Another key Thermo executive directly involved in the funding is Kyle Pickens, Thermo vice president for strategy and development.

Trott has more than 25 years of experience developing and operating a wide range of energy projects, real estate investments, and other business ventures, including doing projects for telecommunication pioneer Craig McCaw for two decades.

Among his projects for McCaw was the successful conversion of James Island, a 780-acre island in the gulf of British Columbia to a model of environmental sustainability.

Anderson credits Trott with “getting us headed in the right direction, including reengineering our system, for which we have patents.”

ARES Nevada actually named the Gamebird Pit for the gravel pit from which the rail cars are filled with rock, is an affiliate of ARES North America.

A groundbreaking was held last week for the project, the first of what ARES has branded as GravityLine energy storage facilities. This one will generate up to 50 megawatts of stored electricity for 15 minutes in 30-minute cycles, enough to power 50,000 homes for those minutes.

The construction phase of the GravityLine facility begins in December and will take about a year to bring on line with the power generated into the California energy grid to California Independent System Operator for the purpose of stabilizing the grid.

From afar the railcars arrayed up and down the hillside may look like bugs scurrying around a small hill. But the reality is that each of the approximately 200 cars weighs 720,000 pounds and is 20 feet long, 16-feet wide, and 15 feet deep, making their way up and down a mountain.

ARES GravityLine’s fixed motor, chain-drive system, similar to how a rollercoaster operates, draws electricity from the grid to drive mass cars uphill against the force of gravity. That converts electrical energy into potential mechanical energy and when the grid requires power, this process is reversed and the cars proceed downhill with the electric motors operating as generators, thereby converting the potential mechanical energy back into electricity.

GravityLine’s storage systems are made up of multiple 5MW tracks and can vary in size from 5 MW to 1 GW of power and an equivalent range of energy depending upon weight and number of rail cars, slope, and distance.

This is a small project, what’s called an ancillary services installation, which basically means it will be used to balance the grid, leveling out peaks and valleys of power generated by renewable resources like solar and wind.

but the profits for ARES will flow from long-duration storage, up to 10 hours, and more, at utility-scale projects around the country.

The challenge, of course, for the renewable energy of wind and solar is that the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. But the gravity that drives ARES’ projects is always there.

A quarter-scale proof-of-concept model of the ARES Nevada project was brought on line at Tehachapi, in the mountains east of Bakersfield, CA, in 2013.

With that model, which attracted interest from utilities around the country, the motors were on the cars’ driving wheels on the track just like a train. But the problem, Anderson explained, was “too much weight or too steep a grade, causing the wheels to lose traction.”

Trott’s re-engineering solved that problem by using chain and sprockets, thus giving positive contact.

Anderson noted that the chain system can go much steeper than the original 7.5 percent, adding “The system is pretty much infinitely scalable.”

Anderson and Harrigan own the technology with both being major shareholders of ARES, Anderson as lead investor and board member, and Harrigan, who first introduced Anderson to the technology in 2010, as chairman.

Despite the fact they’ve been friends for decades, they bring dramatically different business backgrounds to ARES.

Anderson, for years, was a large Kirkland Signature products supplier for Costco and was Costco's largest supplier by the time he sold his company.

Harrigan had key roles in saving both the Seattle Mariners and the Seahawks because Harrigan’s law firm represented King County and the county-owned the Kingdome, which the two professional sports teams were threatening to vacate by leaving town. Harrigan’s legal maneuvers, for which he basically got no visibility until I wrote a column five years ago, forced the two out-of-town owners to sell the team to local buyers (see Flynn’s Harp: Art Harrigan).

In discussing the fact that the ARES projects are based on gravity, Anderson quipped that “gravity is always with us. It’s been important for a long time, going way back to Sisyphus,” referring to the ancient Greek legend of the king condemned by the gods to spend eternity rolling a large boulder up a hill, only to have it roll down the hill and be forced to push it up again.

 
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