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updated 2:54 PM UTC, Jul 28, 2018

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Growing awareness of holistic healthcare guides natural medicine group's national initiative

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The Institute for Natural Medicine (INM), capitalizing on what its president and CEO Michelle Simon calls a growing awareness of the importance of holistic healthcare, hopes to be at the forefront nationally of focusing on “whole person health to address the tsunami of chronic health concerns in our country.”

Simon, a naturopathic physician graduate of Bastyr University, is convinced that expectations of a “more health-savvy populous” will accelerate the demand for integrative medicine, which is defined as healing-oriented medicine “which emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient and takes into account the whole person.”

Under the leadership of Simon, who also holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of North Carolina, INM has grown since she took the reins in 2013 from a Seattle non-profit focused on creating an awareness of the value of natural healthcare to a national organization aimed at changing the healthcare paradigm.

And it will soon have a for-profit arm she plans to incorporate as a Social Purpose Corp., a business structure that in Washington makes the social purpose of the company more important than shareholders’ consideration, to help address the growth needs emerging from the 501c3’s activities, which have begun to be national in scope.

INM is focused on expanding the awareness nationally of naturopathic medicine and broadening the availability of naturopathic physicians as keys to its efforts on behalf of holistic medicine, which by definition is about lifestyle changes, noninvasive remedies, and enhancing the body’s ability to heal itself.

COVID likely has helped create an awareness of "whole person' health as it became clear those with underlying health issues faced a much greater risk of greater impact or death than healthy individuals.

"COVID has provided the need for individuals to recognize that taking charge of their own health, to the degree they can, is vital," Simon said.

An awareness of the emergence of educational facilities focused on what used to be called alternative medicine, which was part of the pushback by conventional medicine, has given way to the term “integrative medicine” with clinics often offering medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, and providers of other health-related services like acupuncture to patients.

The organization’s programs involve a three-pronged effort that includes a public awareness campaign, a residency program that has expanded to three states, and a childhood-nutrition program she calls Naturally Well, which teaches grade school kids about nutrition and teaches them to cook in a nine-week, hands-on program.

Michelle SimonIt was Simon’s telling me about her Naturally Well which was launched in San Gabriel, CA, with funding from the San Gabriel Valley Medical Center Foundation Fund, noting that San Gabriel was chosen because of the incidence of chronic disease combined with low income and high ethnic diversity.
 
INM CEO Michelle Simon on nutrition education:
"Send me your fourth graders!"


She told me children were the focus of what her organization hopes will become a family nutrition-awareness program because experience has shown that youngsters in about the fourth grade are both old enough to be educated and old enough to take such an education effort home to basically work on their parents.

She reminded me that the national campaigns for stopping smoking and getting seat belts were mounted at the grade school level and joked that her campaign could well be called “bring me your fourth graders.”

A similar initiative is underway in rural North Carolina.

When INM was founded in 1993, naturopathic physicians were licensed in only seven states. Now 22 states and territories license naturopathic doctors and one of INM’s initiatives is to seek to get naturopaths licensed in states where they are not yet licensed.

In Washington, incidentally, naturopaths prefer to be called "naturopathic doctors" since, in some states, naturopathic healthcare providers are permitted to call themselves naturopaths without having graduated from an accredited institution.

INM’s Residency Consortium is a collection of 14 multi-provider, multi-discipline, integrative-medicine clinics in three states, a few in Southern California, most in Washington State, and one in Simon’s home state of Vermont, which she explained has “a strong scope of practice for naturopathic medicine.”

But there is still a healthcare-delivery battleground that has conventional medicine often pushing back against broadening the acceptance of naturopathic medicine and licensing naturopaths.

And sometimes the battle in one state or another bears an uncomfortable resemblance to a political fight when naturopath-licensing proponents find themselves in the legislative arena. Such was the case in North Carolina last year when a bill to permit licensing of naturopaths became a pitched battle on the legislative stage and wasn’t approved.

But in Wisconsin, legislation approved last year to license naturopathic doctors was a recent win.

Joseph PizzornoThe West Coast, particularly Oregon and Washington, is at the forefront of the success of naturopathic medicine with maybe half of the estimated 8,000 licensed naturopaths nationally practicing in the West. That’s logically ascribed to the fact that one of the nation’s seven naturopathic universities is located in each West Coast state.
Joseph Pizzorno,Bastyr University founder,
was a master at fighting medical-acceptance
battles 
for naturopathic doctors

Portland-based National University of Naturopathic Medicine is the oldest naturopathic educational institution in the country and Bastyr University on Seattle’s Eastside, co-founded in 1987 by Joseph Pizzorno, who served as Bastyr’s first president for 22 years, maybe the most respected. Bastyr’s campus in San Diego was established in 2012.

Under Pizzorno’s leadership, Bastyr became the first accredited institution in the field of naturopathic medicine in the world. He moved Bastyr to its 51-acre campus on Seattle’s Eastside in the ‘90s and now-retired president Dan Church launched Bastyr’s San Diego campus.

His credentials include having been appointed by President Clinton in 2000 to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy and by President Bush to the Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee in 2002,

Pizzorno was a master at fighting the medical battles and in fact, had to beat back in the Washington Legislature in 1987 in an effort to discontinue licensing of naturopaths, the success paving the way for him and two others to found Bastyr later that year. Pizzorno is the co-author of the internationally acclaimed Textbook of Natural Medicine and the best-selling Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, which has sold a million copies in six languages.

Pizzorno, a member of Simon’s board who travels the globe creating relationships, has seemed to relish his encounters with conventional medicine, including when I noted Wikipedia’s definition of naturopathy as “considered by the medical profession to be ineffective and harmful, raising ethical issues about its practice. In addition to condemnations and criticism from the medical community, such as the American Cancer Society,[naturopaths have repeatedly been denounced as and accused of being charlatans and practicing quackery.”

“Looks like the ‘Quack Busters’ got to write up the Wiki definition,” he told me with a chuckle, noting that Wikipedia entries frequently relate to donations.“ Those of us who are advancing this medicine use the number of times they go after us as a measure of success.”

Despite the decades of rejection by conventional medicine of the focus and principles of naturopathic medicine, the growing awareness of those turning to natural medicine as their healthcare of choice, or maybe their co-choice, has clearly been a major formative influence for MDs and their clinics and hospitals to develop functional medicine and integrative medicine as part of their disciplines.

In fact, the National Institute for Functional Medicine, which includes healthcare providers of various disciplines to help patients address how and why illness occurs, has a board representative of an array of disciplines. Pizzorno was elected chair of its board last December, succeeding an MD.

And Simon shared a recent major success story from Oregon where the National University of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, after what she characterized as “decades of effort,” announced it was partnering with Oregon Health Science University to launch a department of integrative medicine, which will include three ND’s on the team.

INM has its own collaborations as Simon noted that her organization is working with the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress to create a white paper on non-pharma approaches to chronic back pain, which she described as “one of the drivers of primary-care costs and a leading reason for the opioid epidemic.”

One of the nation’s most prominent healthcare facilities to put a high-visibility focus on integrated medicine is Cleveland Clinic, which in 2014 became the first academic medical center in the country to establish a functional medicine program with a focus on chronic disease management.

As the Cleveland Clinics website explains, “Functional medicine providers spend time listening to you and gathering your medical history. We use this information to identify the root cause(s) of the illness, including triggers such as poor nutrition, stress, toxins, allergens, genetics, and your microbiome (the bacteria living in and on your body). Once we identify the triggers, we can customize a healthy living plan for you.”.

But ironically, Ohio is one of the states in which naturopaths are not licensed to practice at this point.

Nor in Kentucky, where a recent $47 million donation to the University of Louisville will be used to create a new campus focused on holistic health and health promotion.

In those and the cases of other states where naturopaths aren’t licensed to practice, naturopaths can be involved in the planning and administration of healthcare, just not delivering services directly to patients.

As an example of Simon’s belief that “there is a national movement toward whole-person health, she noted the Walmart family member Alice Walton is creating a new medical school focusing on it.

“The whole Health School of Medicine will help medical students rise to the health challenges of the 21st century through a reimagining of American medical education that incorporates mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health, the elements of whole health, to help people live healthier and happier lives,” Alice Walton explained of her healthcare vision.
 
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Whalen's support for wounded veterans envisions building treatment Centers of Excellence

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When Peter Whalen created the Invictus Foundation in 2010 to provide support for wounded veterans, he likely had no idea of the path he would follow or the contacts he would make over the following decade leading to his recently announced 10-year, $100 million plan to build eight regional Centers of Excellence to treat Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress.

Stops along the way for Whalen, a Vietnam veteran, included laying out a plan for a prominent New York developer/philanthropist to create a series of veterans-care facilities at military bases across the country, doing a favor for a British Lord representing Prince Harry’s quest for the Invictus Games and picking a prominent coach of disabled veterans to become his foundation’s vice-chair.

Appropriate for a Memorial Day column is the story of Peter Whalen and his Invictus Foundation that he founded to honor the memory of his brother-in-law killed in action in Vietnam by seeking to aid wounded veterans, and appropriate as well as the group of veteran-support contacts he made along the way over the past decade-plus.

“The Invictus Foundation was founded to honor my brother-in-law, Norman R. Stoddard, Jr who was KIA’d in Quang Tri Province 11/17/1970,” Whalen recalled.

“He was a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment. He shipped out in October 1970 and six weeks later the knock came on the door of my in-laws. He was just 21 years old.”
“I was in school at the time in St. Louis and when I walked through the door after classes, I knew by the grief-stricken look on my wife’s face what had happened-Now that damn war included my brother-in-law as well as some of my battle buddies,” Whalen said.

“For most of us who served in Vietnam, it has been a scar on our psyche for our entire adult life. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for me to honor all, especially Brud. Gone way too soon in a war that took an entire generation of potential from this great Nation,” said Whalen, whose time in Vietnam was 1966 to 1968 with the First Cavalry Division in the Central Highlands.

He was a hospital administrator and healthcare executive for 40 years before retiring and turning to his wounded-veterans cause.Peter WhalenPeter Whalen's Invictus Foundation envisions national treatment Centers of Excellence

The developer-philanthropist connection was with the Fisher Family whose Zachery Fisher created the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which came into existence a year after his death in 1999.

The Fisher family, under the guidance of Zachery’s sons, including Arthur, turned to Whalen to write the business plan to establish a national network of satellites for the National Intrepid Center of Excellence the Fishers built at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

His business plan for the Fishers served as the model for his own regional Welcome Home Networks that provide coverage of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, marriage & family counselors, substance abuse counselors, and mental health workers, whose number now stands at 730,000 behavioral health providers across eight regions and all 50 states.
 
It was Zachery’s grandson, Ken Fisher, whom Whalen met in connection with Prince Harry’s desire to create the Invictus Games, then learned that Whalen had trademarked Invictus Foundation so sought to get permission to use the name.
 
“What was I going to do, tell the prince if he uses the Invictus name, I’ll sue him?” Whalen joked.

So he agreed that Prince Harry could use the Invictus Foundation name for sports while he retained it for health usage. In both cases, they emphasize the definition of Invictus. Unconquered.
 
It was in the process of working with Fisher in seeking to land the 1925 games for Seattle that he met Lord Charles Allen. Lord Allen, Baron Allen of Kensington, chairman of Balfour Beatty Plc, (the leading international infrastructure company), Chairman of Global Media & Entertainment Group (the largest commercial radio, digital and outdoor group in the United Kingdom) whom he described as a man whose wealth and media involvements were “a cross between Ted Turner and Craig McCaw.”
 
“He has deep pockets and an international network of contacts that could help me raise the funding for the Centers,” Whalen said. “He is definitely a potential funding source.”
 
Allen, a member of parliament, is a friend of Prince Harry, who tapped him to chair the Invictus Games Foundation and thus he and Whalen connected and became friends because of the Seattle effort to land the 2025 games, which it turned out will be held in Vancouver.
 
It was in meeting with Whalen in August for a column I did on the Seattle effort to land the 2025 games that I learned the wartime experiences of Whalen in Vietnam and Harry in a tour in Afghanistan brought both to understand the need to help heal the wounded warriors physically, psychologically, and socially. And both expressed the belief in the power of sports to assist that effort “to shine a light on the unconquerable character of servicemen and women.”

Bryan HoddleBryan Hoddle, "Soldiers coach," will help oversee the capital construction campaign for CentersIn fact, it was in a communication with Allen that Whalen first shared the plan to finance the $15 million capital construction campaign with what’s known as philanthrocapitalism, noting the corporate structure will be that of a healthcare REIT that “fuses the valuation of land with an ROI from operating profitability.”
 
“Investors have a choice of investing for purely philanthropic reasons or an adjusted rate of return on investment given their affinity for the vision and mission of the Invictus Centers, "Whalen said. “The philanthrocapitalism model will be harnessed with a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) governance that will allow investors to realize gains through the real estate the Invictus Centers are built upon as well."
 
Whalen’s plan is that the existing Welcome Home Networks will feed into the regional centers, each to be built for $15 million. The first will be in the Puget Sound area and for that, he suggests a site of some 200 acres the state owns near Puyallup “would be ideal,” providing the “pastoral setting” that he wants for each regional center, as well as proximity to a military base, in this case, JBLM where one of the Fishers Intrepid Centers is located.
 
In fact, Whalen noted that the Intrepid Center at JBLM served as the model for his regional centers with the key difference being the Intrepid Centers, aimed to help active-duty military, are located on military bases while the Invictus centers are for veterans located near but not on the military facilities.
 
Interestingly, the centers will also provide services for police and fire public safety officers, with Whalen explaining: “Many public safety officers have the same stressors as our active-duty military and veterans. In fact, many of them are ex-military. It is also a group that needs help. I have spoken to several police chiefs in the State who agree that is the case. “

The Foundation’s capital construction campaign efforts will be supported and overseen by two vice-chairs who are members of its board of directors, one of whom is Bryan Hoddle, one of the nation's most recognized and honored track and field coaches whose attention to developing young athletes and counseling coaches came to include aiding disabled athletes and since 2002 with wounded veterans.
 
Hoddle, by coincidence the subject of several Harps (search Flynn’s Harp: Bryan Hoddle) has an expert knowledge base in consulting with military and veterans’ organizations on the treatment of injured soldiers and veterans. He is often referred to as the Soldiers Coach and one of the most memorably touching videos he once shared with me shows him running around the track with a blind veteran running along with him, his hand on Hoddle’s hand.
 
I asked Hoddle about his involvement in helping guide the creation of the centers and he said: “lately I’ve been hearing comments about our wars are over. Not for these men and women. we send them over there, bring them back and they don’t get the support and care they need to transform back into society.”
 
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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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Mariners Opening Day — memories of the '92 season when local ownership was assured

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When the Seattle Mariners take the field for their home opener on April 15, some will recall the season 30 years ago that took two opening days three months apart to confirm that the future of the Mariners would be in Seattle, with a team of local owners, buttressed by a Japanese businessman devoted to Seattle, thus ending the uncertainty of the franchise.

This year's home opener against Houston will mark another anniversary of national importance. It was on April 15, 75 years ago that Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the old Brooklyn Dodgers so 2022 Opening Day will also be Jackie Robinson Day, leading to a weekend of activities in which the Mariners will help celebrate that anniversary.

It's on occasions like a three-decade anniversary of local ownership when those involved find that little-known facts of the story come to the forefront of memory for sharing.

chuck armstrongChuck Armstrong
was Mariner president for George Argyros - 22 yrs for the local ownership group
Thus this Harp, a revisit to one I did five years ago, will be dedicated to a collection of several such stories related to that Mariners' accomplishment that made opening day 1992 special for not just the 56,000 fans on hand but also for supporters across the region.

It was in December of 1991 that U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton learned that his effort to convince Nintendo CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi to invest, not as a baseball fan but to repay the community that he felt had helped his company become successful, had paid off.

And it was on January 23 of 1992 when the announcement of the group of local investors to be named the Baseball Club of Seattle and led by the Japanese billionaire would buy the team to keep it in Seattle.

But it would be three months beyond opening day in 1992 before The MLB ownership committee recommended approval of the purchase of the team by the Baseball Club of Seattle. So while there was more optimism that April about the franchise staying here, the approval issue still had people holding their collective breath.

There was an appropriate major celebration at Safeco Field later to recognize Gorton for his essential role in finding local buyers after then-owner Jeff Smulyan announced he was planning to sell the team, triggering a clause that gave 120 days to find local owners.

The 120-day clause provides interesting memories for those most closely involved, and retired Mariners president Chuck Armstrong shared a couple of those memories in a telephone conversation.

Armstrong was attorney and advisor for George Argyros, the Southern California businessman who had purchased the Mariners in 1981 from the original ownership team, and Armstrong served his first stint as president of the Mariners when Argyros sent him up from Southern California a couple of years later.

The 120-day provision had been inserted in 1985 when Argyros and King County Executive Randy Revelle were negotiating a change in the Kingdome lease and Argyros suggested it as a "closer" to getting county council approval.

Armstrong recalls that the reason for suggesting the provision was that Argyros "didn't want to go down in history as the guy who sold to a distant owner and thus let the Mariners leave town without providing time to find local owners."

"He was okay with a new owner living elsewhere, as long as he didn't move the team," he added.

Armstrong recalls "George never gets credit for this."

But Argyros did become basically loathed in Seattle in 1987 when he sought to buy the San Diego Padres to have a team closer to his Southern California home after the death of owner Ray Kroc. Armstrong said the possible Padres purchase was suggested by Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth's, who said he would find someone to buy the Mariners.

Armstrong was also involved in trying to help sell the Japanese ownership to MLB, remembering that he called his friend, George W.Bush, then managing partner of the Texas Rangers explained the challenge and asked if his father, President Bush, might be interested in helping with the issue.

"One day the phone rang and a woman said: 'the president is calling.' I asked 'President of what?' and she said a little icily, how about President of the United States.'"

Armstrong said it turned out that Baseball Commissioner Faye Vincent had worked for the elder Bush in the oil fields and they had remained friends.

Arthur HarriganArthur Harrigan's
legal maneuverings opened the door for local owners to buy the Mariners at a 'local price' millions below the actual value
"I can't honestly tell you what, if any, role the president took in our issue, though both Bushes indicated they had no problem with a Japanese owner" chuckled Armstrong, who, since no one in the new local ownership, knew anything about running a baseball team, was brought back as president on July 1, 1992. He retired in 2014.

Another recollection, truly little known, except for those closely involved with the effort to save the Mariners, is of the legal battle in which Seattle attorney Arthur Harrigan won the right for local ownership to be sought.
 
That occurred because there was another aspect to that 120-day provision that Argyros provided and it was an attendance provision, a provision that basically provided that if Seattle fans didn’t want to support their team, there would be no requirement to search for local ownership.
 
Thus came a crucial role for Harrigan, whose firm of Calfo Harrigan Leyh and Eakes got into the battle because it represented King County and Smulyan was seeking to abandon the county-owned Kingdome.
 
The venue for resolving the future of the Seattle Mariners franchise was what amounted to an arbitration hearing before Arthur Andersen, the national accounting firm agreed to by both sides to decide some key issues relating to the lease and the team.
 
Since it wasn't a court process, which would have gotten large visibility for the battle between attorneys, Harrigan's maneuvering over the meaning of wording in Smulyan's contract regarding the attendance provision and whether it triggered the 120-day clause got virtually no visibility and was thus little known except to those involved, but I had fun telling the story in my 2017 column.
 
Harrigan's argued interpretation of the lease-requirement wording was accepted by the Andersen firm, so Smulyan was required to give the four-month opportunity for a local buyer to be sought. Then of perhaps equal importance, Harrigan successfully argued that there should be a local value lower than the open-market value.
 
The accounting firm agreed and set a "stay-in-Seattle" valuation at $100 million, rather than the national open-market value of $130 million that it had determined.
 
That created the opportunity for Gorton and others to lead the effort to keep the team in Seattle to find a local buyer for $100 million, rather than $130 million, within four months. And that led to Nintendo.

John Ellis, the widely respected, retiring CEO of Puget Sound Power & Light, was a token partner, along with retiring Boeing CEO Frank Shrontz, to add business respectability to the wealthy but lesser-known Microsoft and McCaw Cellular entrepreneurs group.

Ellis was picked to lead the group's effort to gain baseball's approval, becoming managing general partner, eventually becoming CEO and guiding the team through the rest of the '90s, and setting the stage for the team's 2001 MLB record-tying 116 victories.

John StantonJohn StantonOne of the most interesting stories and one that I've felt should be shared ever since I first heard it, is how now CEO and majority owner John Stanton had wished with all his might to be part of the ownership team in 1992 but told me some years ago "I didn't have the money."
For those who might find that startling or amusing, remember that wireless pioneer Stanton had then recently departed McCaw Cellular with Craig McCaw's blessing to launch Stanton Communications with his wife, Theresa Gillespie, and they had sunk all their capital into that venture. The company would, in 1994, become Western Wireless, which went public in1996 and spun off VoiceStream Wireless in 1999.

"We had the opportunity to invest in 1992 and passed because we were funding payroll for about 100 employees out of our personal checking account," Stanton told me in an email.

"In 2000 we had the opportunity to buy John McCaw's interest in the team. And we have been involved since then."

I asked Stanton for this column to share with me his feeling about baseball and his answer provided the perfect close:

‘I am first and foremost a fan; I love the game and everything about it; Opening Day reminds me of every Pilots and minor league game I attended with my father (he passed before opening day in 1978) and every game I have attended with my wife and sons. To quote a line from James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams 'This field, this game -- it's a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.'"

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Leen Kawas' comeback: Managing General Partner of Propel Bio Partners, a new fund for life sciences start-ups

Propel-Life-Science-Fund
When I did a column five years ago citing a comment from Melinda Gates to a large audience of women that the technology industry was dominated by “a sea of white guys,” I noted that it was actually a woman, Leen Kawas, a then-32-year-old immigrant not yet a citizen, who was the dominant face of the biotech sector of technology in this state.
 
In recalling that column, I remembered making the point that Kawas was the beneficiary of a large group of investors who were believers in her, in her commitment and in her company, Athira Biotechnology, as she was at the leading edge of the emerging field of regenerative medicine, destined to halt or even reverse the progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
 
I revisit the column here because of the corporate rollercoaster ride Kawas has been on over the past 18 months, first preparing for and taking Athira public in October of 2020. Then being placed on leave in June of 2021 for obscure allegations relating to her doctoral paper at Washington State University nearly a decade ago, then being forced by Athira’s board to resign her CEO role last September after an investigation of the doctoral paper allegations was completed, but results never announced.

Remember this is the young scientist who was co-inventor of Athira's lead drug candidate ATH-1017 and also invented several of the innovative drug candidates in Athira’s pipeline.
 
Dr. Leen Kawas co founder and managing general partner of new fund Dr. Leen Kawas,
Co-Founder, Managing General Partner - 
Propel Bio Partners LP
Now comes news of Kawas’ giant of all comebacks, easing the anger toward the board of Athira that has been the shared emotion for most of that large group of investors who never wavered in their support of Kawas. Now, in essence, she is past the pain of Athira, realizing that what she and her patents put in place there is still likely to become the vital drug she and those who invested in her anticipate.
 
So now rather than building one vital world-changing biotech company, her future will be in helping numerous entrepreneurs, including biotech ones, build important companies.

It was announced in no less than the Wall Street Journal that Kawas is co-founder and managing general partner of a new investment firm called Propel Bio Partners LP, which will seek to raise a pooled investment fund of $150 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Of particular significance to the investor world, her co-founder is Richard Kayne, prominent Los Angeles-based asset manager, former Cantor Fitgerald principal, and founder of Kayne Anderson. He will be Propel’s general partner.
 
Propel says it plans to invest in life sciences companies at various stages of development, seeking “to help founders and management teams fulfill the urgent mission to advance human health with disruptive therapies and technologies.”

Propel Bio Partners has quickly attracted some who were early investors in Athira, originally named M3 Bio. Thus it was announced at almost the same time as news of Propel Bio’s formation that John Fluke Jr., who remains on Athira’s board, and Carol Criner, vice president of strategic accounts for the global enterprise solutions company HCL Technologies, were planning to invest.

“Leen is a visionary entrepreneur with a unique blend of drive, intelligence, and demonstrated business acumen. In six short years, she built a company from the ground up, taking it through the early stages of drug development, through its public offering, and into the final stages of developing its potentially game-changing therapy,” Kayne said.

“Under Leen’s leadership, I believe Propel is uniquely positioned to identify excellent opportunities to assist entrepreneurs along the path to success,” he added.

The investment firm’s team includes senior associate Dasom (Christine) Yoo, former Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center business development manager.

And its advisory board includes Ronald Lee Krall, former GlaxoSmithKline chief medical officer, and current NIH Foundation director,

“I am looking forward to providing promising and passionate entrepreneurs the same opportunity that Ric Kayne and others gave to me when I started Athira,” Kawas said in a press release announcing propel Bio's launch.

Richard Kayne prominent Los Angeles based asset manager will be new funds general partner Propel Bio Partners LPRichard Kayne -
prominent Los Angeles based asset manager will be New Funds General Partner Propel Bio Partners LP
In statements coinciding with the fund's announcement, several of those advising or investing in the new fund, including Fluke and Criner, who were early investors in Athira, made it clear that their involvement was an endorsement of Kawas as an entrepreneur, leader, and scientist.

Those who are longtime readers of The Harp may well recall that Kawas has been my focus on a half dozen occasions, dating back to when I met her in the fall of 2013 before she had been named M3 CEO.

Because her drug was initially focused on Parkinson’s and my wife, Betsy, has been suffering with Parkinson's since 1999. I took to helping Leen meet potential investors through the fall of 2013 and all of 2014.

I told her "You are my company."

She liked to chuckle when she would tell people that I introduced her to the first 200 people she met in Seattle, Spokane, and Southern California, beginning even before she was formally made CEO in January of 2014, Among the first in Seattle were Fluke and Criner. Carol was the first woman I introduced Leen to and she became the first female investor and a mentor.

As I watched Leen's presentation ability, I quickly became comfortable introducing the young Jordanian woman to friends I felt could, if they wished to, ante up the $50,000 that was then the ask.

One was Richard Sudek, then recent past chair of the five-county Tech Coast Angels, which was the largest angel investor group in the nation. Thus at that point, he was likely the best known angel-investment leader in Southern California.

Sudek, who had returned to academia at Chapman University in Orange County, agreed in spring of 2014 to sit for Leen’s computer slide presentation and when she finished, Sudek, leaving me stunned, said: “If you have an advisory board, I’d be happy to be on it.” Sudek has never wavered in his support of her since then.

An accidental introduction allowed me to advise Leen that fate had already determined she would be a success. That came about at Suncadia when Leen was preparing for a presentation I had arranged for a board I was on and I went into the lobby to get coffee. Jim Warjone then retired as CEO but still chairman of Port Blakely Companies, saw me and we caught up for a few minutes since I hadn't seen him in several years. Then he asked what I was doing there and I told him, he asked if he could sit in on the presentation.

So he did and before long he called me to tell me he had decided to invest. He has shared with me several times in recent years when Leen comes up in conversation: "She is the smartest person I've ever met!"

At one point, Kawas cautiously explained to me M3’s focus had to shift from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s because it was easier to raise money for a drug to reverse Alzheimer’s and the company was now in a multi-million dollar raise preceding its planned IPO. But she added that “as soon as we finish with approval for Alzheimer’s we'll be 60 percent of the way along when we shift our focus to Parkinson’s” and indeed the trials for Parkinson’s have already gotten underway.

As Leen and I became close friends because of our common goal, at one point she asked: “Can you invest?” So a couple of days later I wrote her a check. A few days after that she told me Fluke had agreed to invest and I asked her if she had deposited my check. She said she hadn’t and I said “if you don’t deposit my check as your first investor before you deposit Fluke’s then tear mine up.”

Now she was certainly aware that a guy with his own family venture fund was of greater long-term investment value than a retired newspaper publisher. Nevertheless, she deposited my check that afternoon, so I have been able to say I was her first investor. And as her image and impact become more far-reaching in the future with her new biotech fund, it becomes ever more satisfying to say that. Because we are close friends, Fluke has been okay but tends to look aside if he's around when I have occasion to tell someone that I am investor number 1.

By 2015, Leen was finding biotech executives and funders beating a path to her door so my introductions were no longer needed, but we remained friends as I was able to turn my attention to other things but watched as she continued to grow a cadre of followers, frequently those for whom Alzheimer's and Parkinson's had personally impacted their lives.

One was Michael Nassirian, a retired Microsoft key executive and an Iranian whose father, who had headed the Iranian oil company, had died of Alzheimer's.

When Nassirian heard Leen's presentation at a Bellevue Chamber event, he approached her after her talk and told her he wanted to be involved and asked how much she needed.

Because of the Leen connection, Nassirian and I have become close friends and meet regularly and I'm sure one of those future meetings will relate to Propel and the need for him to be involved.

When Leen was once asked at an event about what's the difference between the technology industry and biotech, the answer she gave may help guide the future conviction of entrepreneurs drawn to her industry and to her fund.

"Would you rather be part of the industry that will create new instruments that people will be able to hold in their hand or would you want to be part of an industry whose role will be to help create a new hand?"
 
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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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New indoor track and downtown stadium add logic to a vote for Spokane as 'Sports town USA'

SpokaneWA
Madison, WI, home of the University of Wisconsin, wears the Sports-Illustrated bestowed crown, strongly disputed by several cities like Ann Arbor, MI, and Columbus, OH, as “Best Football Town in America.” There’s little dispute about Eugene, OR’s, claim to the title, ‘Track Town USA.” So comes now my sense that Spokane deserves the title. “Sports Town USA.”

But before the guffaws commence from those in the Puget Sound area where all the pro sports teams, as well as the collegiate Huskies, have large and super-loyal fan bases and tend to look down their noses at Spokane, or from California’s major cities with a similar nose problem, let me offer the points of my argument.

Stephanie Curran CEO of Spokane Public Facilities DistrictStephanie Curran CEO of Spokane Public Facilities DistrictThe idea actually came to mind as I watched high school and college runners from across the country at a track event at the city’s gleaming new indoor 200-meter track that boasts the nation’s newest and the West’s only hydraulic-banked running track, housed in the new Podium. That means the ends of the track are hydraulically elevated for sprint events and lowered for other events.

There should be little argument if Spokane claimed the title of the nation’s basketball capital. After all, it’s not only home to a Gonzaga Bulldog basketball team that dominates collegiate ranks, it also hosts on one weekend each year the 3-on-3 basketball tournament called Hoopfest which is the largest event of its kind in the world. Or as the event launched in 1989 touts itself, “the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament on earth,” attracting a quarter-million fans, 450 courts spanning 45 city blocks, and drawing 6,700 teams.

Then of course, for the world of runners, there’s the Lilac Bloomsday Run, the 12 kilometers, 7.4-mile run that on May 1 will mark its 45th anniversary this year, celebrating the 1977 launch of the event by Spokane resident Don Kardong, who had finished fourth in the marathon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. An amusing note is that Kardong had moved to Spokane only two years before the Olympics and was basically unknown in Spokane until his name came on television and Spokanites could watch and learn about him during and after the marathon.

An indication of Spokane’s ability to attract talent to its events, before Hoopfest began to attract global attention, is evidenced by the launch of Bloomsday. Kardong had hoped for 500 participants for the inaugural run and got nearly triple that. The second edition had over 5,000 and the third, in 1979, attracted 10,000 runners, with 50,000 spectators lining the streets.

As Stephanie Curran, CEO of the Spokane Public Facilities District that manages the new Podium and several other facilities, told me in an email: “I believe we are the model of how cities can grow and develop their public facilities,” pointing out that the PFD also manages a convention center, performing arts center, arena and new stadium under construction. “We literally manage one of every venue type. We are blazing a trail.’

Among the facilities under the oversight of the PFD will soon be the new downtown stadium to replace 70-plus-year-old Albi Stadium, located in northwest Spokane, which has primarily been the home of high school football over those seven decades.

Marty Dickinson chair of Spokane Public Facilities DistrictMarty Dickinson chair of Spokane Public Facilities DistrictThe Spokane Public Schools board, after three years of controversy that included an advisory vote in 2018 in which nearly 70 percent of the vote favored building a new stadium on the site of Albi Stadium, voted last April to approve construction of the $31 million, 5,000-seat stadium at the downtown site. Support, including financial concessions, from the downtown-business community’s Downtown Spokane Partnership as well as the PFD, tipped the scales in favor of the downtown location.

Curran, in praise of the stadium decision, said: “The School Board ultimately demonstrated bold leadership and made the best decision for the community. While not everyone agrees, I am confident in the end they will realize the opportunities the downtown location will provide will be amazing for our students and our community.”

The new stadium, being built across the street from the Podium, won’t just be the home to high school football, but to two new soccer teams, men’s and women’s teams in the United Soccer League, which touts itself as “the largest and fastest-growing professional soccer organization in North America.” Landing the two soccer teams was part of the downtown location payoff.
Spokane Sports CEO Eric Sawyer explained, of both the Podium and the new downtown stadium that opens next year: "we sat down a number of years ago to create a roadmap for sports in our region and a key conclusion was we needed a multipurpose sports complex to attract visitors in winter months. And realizing that Albi had to be replaced, there was a conversation on where to build a new one.”

“So we thought maybe downtown and make it something more than a high school football stadium so the final outcome of both the Podium and the new stadium was getting all the stars aligned,” explained Sawyer, whose non-profit marketing organization has a mission to recruit and develop sporting events.

He added that with those stars now aligned, he can look to retire next year when he turns 65.

The $54 million Podium, which sits high on a 15-foot basalt outcropping and overlooks downtown Spokane and is connected to Riverfront Park, opened in December and takes its next high-visibility step this weekend when it hosts USA Track & Field Indoor Championships that serves as the qualifying meet for the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, March 11-13.

Curran reflected in her email to me on the past that helped bring about the present and future.
“If you look at the history of Spokane and how Expo ’74 almost 50 years ago changed the trajectory of Spokane, I fully believe what we are doing in Spokane now, especially on the North Bank where the Podium, Arena, and Downtown Stadium are located, we are the next Expo (the World’s Fair for which Spokane became the smallest city ever to host the global event),” Curran said. “We are changing the trajectory of Spokane through Sports and Entertainment and driving money into our economy at the exact time it is needed post Pandemic.”

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, discussing the emerging challenge of rising home prices and national attention that are part of that trajectory, said “Spokane has been discovered.” And the PFD And Spokane Sports are seeking to do their parts in providing things for those in other parts of the country to discover.

If the line “a river runs through it” were ever applied to an urban area, it would nowhere have more import than Spokane. The entire downtown area of the city abuts the Spokane River, which not only has the largest urban waterfall in the nation there near downtown but attracts activities and recreation to the shore and thus to adjacent downtown. So the downtown core of Spokane is never going to be diminished by future events, as is being feared for Seattle and San Francisco as the remote-work and blended-work phenomenon takes hold. And additions like the stadium and the Podium only ensure the future of downtown as well as the city surrounding it.

With nearby ski resorts and numerous lakes in both Eastern Washington and adjacent Northern Idaho, outdoor sports and activities offer as much newcomer lure for Spokane as organized sports events. But reputations are built on organized sports.

Marty Dickinson, chair of the PFD, praised sports investment as “the great connector in our community.” Dickinson, who was executive vice president of Spokane-based Sterling Bank and its successor Umpqua Bank said sports “serves as a wonderful convenor of diversity, unifies us and inspires many and along with that it is an economic driver.”

Referring to the Podium, Dickinson, who now also chairs the Washington State University Board of Regents, said “being able to provide a public space of this quality and share it with so many while also continuing to drive economic vitality into our region is something that everyone is very proud of.”

Spokane Sports CEO Eric SawyerSpokane Sports CEO Eric SawyerBecause it’s an entity partly funded with taxpayer dollars, how they handle that responsibility is clearly a part of the PFD's success. And as Paul Read, publisher of the Spokane Journal of Business and PFD vice-chair, told me in a phone conversation: “I’ve always been impressed with their stewardship of the public dollars.”

While the leadership and vision of the PFD and Spokane Sports have written a success story for a city that is attracting attention as a place to live for those tired of the pace and costs of Seattle and California cities, it’s important for the city to recognize those whose belief in the place came years ago.

I’m thinking of Bobby Brett, one of baseball’s most famous brother acts, who guided the Brett brothers to buy the Spokane Indians, now part of the High-A West baseball league, 36 years ago and in 1990 added the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League to their Brett Sports lineup.

But back to the Sports Town USA premise, I tossed out at the top of this column. Interestingly the PFD CEO Curran told me in her email, not yet being aware of this column, she had thought about “Sports Town USA” and suggested it to the county commissioners. And she seemed enthused that they opted for the name Sports County USA.

It's an understandable decision for the elected commissioners since the city of Spokane Valley, with its 106,000 population, almost half of Spokane's 229,000, might feel somehow slighted and thus upset.

That would seem a remote concern. And sadly, "Track County USA," would seem less likely to gain much traction for the city’s image if it’s promoted around the country. Hopefully, the marketing people find a way to bring “Sports Town USA” to fruition.

The city merits that title and in fact, it will add to the growing attraction it has evidenced with potential new residents, including those from Seattle and the West Side, as well as California.
 
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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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Google & Big Tech — New accusations of antitrust, privacy and possible criminal conduct abound

Big_Tech_antitrust_privacy_behavior_under_scrutiny

Monopolize and manipulate. Those are the antitrust accusations and charges of privacy invasion, and even illegal conduct, being tossed at Google and Facebook by a group of state attorneys general, a coalition of newspaper publishers and members of Congress, all of whom want to bring the tech giants to heel in one way or another.

But a suit against Google and its subsidiary YouTube by a Seattle-based firm whose business includes managing receiverships may prove equally interesting to watch as it unfolds.

And now add the suit filed Monday by Washington Atty. Gen. Robert Ferguson and attorneys general from three other states focusing on Google’s collection of local data that can be used to target advertising as well as build internet-user profiles, even those users who had acted on Google’s agreement to let them opt-out. Ferguson said, bluntly, Google’s conduct “is not only dishonest, but it’s also unlawful.”

The suit by Revitalization Partners, likely the first of its kind by a court-appointed receiver, alleges Google and YouTube infringed on a trio of patents held by a Bellevue-based company named AudienceScience Inc., which actually went out of business five years ago. 

Al Davis Revitalization PartnersAl Davis
Revitalization Partners
Revitalization Partners’ co-founder and principal Al Davis said his firm discovered more than 30 AudienceScience patents after being appointed by the court to manage the receivership process, which involves finding the best solution for the highest possible return for creditors.

A determination of patent infringement would likely mean financial penalties for Google and YouTube, though Revitalization Partners’ suit does not include a request for a specific dollar judgment.

But Ferguson’s suit specifically asks that Google be ordered to disclose the profits it made from using the tactics alleged and give it all back as well as pay a $7,500 fee for each violation. That would mean uncovering Google’s profits from the activity.

Davis noted that AudienceScience invented and patented many of the “foundational technologies” used across the digital advertising industry today, including the industry’s first of what are called “behavioral targeting products.” That means targeting advertising based on both user history and page views.

AudienceScience was a Bellevue company known for building software and tools designed to help major marketers buy digital ads programmatically, using a combination of automation and data. It closed its doors after it lost its long-time client Procter & Gamble.

“Now that we’ve received the necessary approvals from the Washington State receivership court to pursue litigation, we are in a position to execute and potentially recover a significant amount of value for creditors using these and other patents,” Davis said.

If you’ve ever had the sense akin to something like catching someone peeking in your bedroom window when, for example, ads for various San Diego hotels suddenly appear on your desktop after you’ve been looking up the website of a hotel in that city, you’ll understand what technology of user information to empower advertisers is all about. And why the effort to control it as an example of privacy invasion is beginning to attract such attention at the highest levels.

And how much the major tech companies have made off of providing information to advertisers on where visitors to the internet seek information, should that sort of financial information ever be ferreted out, could prove interesting to the attorneys general, publishers, and Congress in determining actions to impose limits on the activities of the tech giants.

Ferguson’s suit seeking specific profit information would be a key step in determining that information on the riches gleaned by actions increasingly viewed as privacy invasion and patent infringement.
.
According to material unveiled in the past few days in the case brought in Texas by the coalition of attorneys general, Google manipulated the system of buying and selling online display ads and deceived advertisers. Google dominates the online system for buying and selling online display ads.

If courts affirm such manipulation charges, it would mean more than just other media entities seeking to have their ads reach consumers were harmed but also consumers in general since such action inevitably leads to fewer product choices.

In fact, the Revitalization Partners suit against Google and YouTube isn’t the first on behalf of a small tech firm alleging Google infringed on its patents.

Coincidentally, another former Bellevue company named VoIP-Pal.com Inc. has over the past few years filed suits against Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other major tech companies alleging violation of the patents it holds on what’s known as Voice-over-Internet Protocol.

VoIP-Pal is a publicly-traded corporation that is actually a penny stock (hovering at a few cents a share) because it has never been able to monetize the technology of its patents and likely won’t unless the courts order the big tech companies to pay for using what VoIP-Pal contends it holds the patents for. It owns a portfolio of such patents.

For example, VoIP-Pal contends Amazon’s Alexa calling and messaging service uses VoIP-Pal’s patented technologies to direct voice and video calls and messages is an infringement on one of its patents. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision how much revenue would flow to VoIP-Pal from a court decision requiring Amazon to pay VoIP-Pal for Alexa’s technology.

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, after several years of deliberation, approved all the patents for the various technologies in the company’s portfolio and the entity known as the Patent Trials and Appeals Board, in an unusual decision favoring the “little guy,” rejected the challenges by the big tech companies to the validity of VoIP-Pal patents.

Observers of these types of litigations relating to patent infringement actions against the major tech firms know there’s a quiet desire not to have a suit by a small firm come before one of the Silicon Valley Federal judges.

But the federal judge in West Texas has a track record of the ruling, in patent infringement cases, in favor of the patent holder. VoIP-Pal recently moved its corporate headquarters to Waco, TX.

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

US-Congress
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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#TeletypeArt — The annual offering of holiday greetings that emerged long-ago

teletypeart_banner
Dear Friends:
 
Sharing the re-creation of the art once delivered via wire-service teletype machines to media newsrooms around the nation during the quiet hours of Christmas Eve has become my annual way of delivering holiday greetings to those who have been kind enough to allow Flynn's Harp into their email 'bag' each week. And I am particularly grateful to those who have been on the recipient list for this column all or most of the now nearly 14 years since I launched it.
 
The belief in Christmas is not shared by all of my friends. In fact those friends have, to my good fortune, become a varied array of national origins and religions. But the values that Christmas embodies for those who cherish it transcend national or religious differences and should be shared and cherished by all with this season as a reminder.
 
The x's, o's, (or frequently dollar signs and exclamation marks) of these holiday icons appeared a line at a time on the teletype paper as teletype operators’ keystrokes created images of Christmas trees, Santa Claus, holly wreaths. 
 
The uniqueness of the tree below is that the Christmas greeting is delivered in nearly 50 languages.
 
Since each year brings new names to the list of those receiving Flynn's Harp, there are some who haven't previously seen the art. For that reason, and because fond memories are served by repetition, here is the annual sharing of this Christmas art.
 
Happy Holidays!
-----------------

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

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                          4$$$"    -eec. ""JP" ..eee$%..
                          -**N #c  -^***.eE ^z$P$$$$$$$$$r-
                 .ze$$$$$eu?$eu '$$$$b $=^*$$ .$$$$$$$$$$"
              --."?$$$$$$$$$c"$$c .""" e$K =""*?$$$P""""
  ueee. `` $E !!h ?$$$$$$$$b R$N'~!! *$$F J"""C. `
 J `"$$eu`!h !!!`4!!<?$$$$$$$P ?".eee-z.ee" ~$$e.br
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  4$$$F".`?$$c`!! \).!!!`?$$$$F.$$$# $u$% ee*"^ 4`"$"?$q
   ""`,!!!`$$N.4!!~~.~~4 ?$$F'$$F.@.* -L.e@$$$$ec.     "
   "Rr`!!!!h ?$$c`h `# !! $F,r4$L*** e$$$$$$$$$$$$hc
     #e'4!!!!L`$$b'!.!h`~~ .$F'"   d$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$h,
      ^$.`!!!!h $$b`!. -   $P /'  .$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$c
        "$c`!!!h`$$.4~     $$$r' <$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$P"""
          ^te.`~ $$b       `Fue-  `$$$$$$$$$$$$$$P". !! "<
             ^"=4$P"    .,,,. -^.  ?$$$$$$$$$$"?. !! !!~ ,,ec..
                   ..z$$$$$$$$$h,   `$$$$$$P"..`!f !f ~)Lze$$$P""""?i
                 ud$$$$$$$$$$$$$$h   `?$$F <!!'<!>~)ue$$P*"..!!!!! J
               .K$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$,    P.>e'!f !~ ed$$P".!!!!!!!!`.d"
              z$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ 4!!~\e$$$P`!!!!!!!!!!'.eP'
             -*". . "??$$$$$$$$$$$$      ~ `z$$$F".`!!!!!!!!!!',dP"
           ." )!!h i`!- ("?$$$$$$f       ,$$P"! ). `'!!!!`,d$F'
      .ueeeu.J`-^.!h <- ~`.. ??$$'      ,$$ !!`e$$$$e `,e$F'
   e$$$$$$$$$$$$$eeiC ")?-<%'^?       ?$f !!! ?$$$$",F"
  P"....```""?$$$$$$$$$euL^.!..` .        "Tu._.,``""
  $ !!!!!!!!!!.""??$$$$$$eJ~^=.           ````
  ?$.`!!!!!!!!!!!!!!."??$$$$$c'.
   "?b.`!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!>."?$$$$c
     ^?$c`'!!!!!!!!!!!',eeb, "$$$k
        "?$e.`'!!!!!!! $$$$$ ;.?$$
           "?$ee,``''!."?$P`i!! 3P
               ""??$bec,,.,ceeeP"
                      `""""""
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Heavey hopes his efforts to free the wrongfully imprisoned might draw those focused on racial justice

justice
Michael (Mike) Heavey, founder and CEO of an organization dedicated to freeing those wrongfully imprisoned, is hoping an awareness-creating holiday ask will attract companies that reacted to Black Lives Matter by devoting resources to create opportunities and correct injustices.
 
Heavey, a former Washington legislator and King County Superior Court judge who created Judges for Justice in 2013, notes that corporations pledged billions of dollars following the Black Lives Matter moment of reckoning on racial justice in America.
 
 “Maybe the greatest injustice of all is the wrongful loss of freedom,” Heavey suggested.
 
“The issue of the large number of people imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit becomes clearly a racial justice issue with statistics that indicate black people are seven times more likely to be wrongly convicted of murder than white people,” Heavey said.
 
Heavey says that once his organization has identified a wrongful conviction, “we conduct a campaign of innocence.”
 
He describes the approach of creating a climate aimed at aiding the imprisoned person as like a political campaign with mailers, media visibility, and Facebook ads and bar magazine ads.
 
In fact, Judges for Justice is currently involved in such an effort on behalf of an Ohio prisoner and is this week filing a motion to convince the Hawaii supreme court to take action in relation to Judges for Justice’s longest ongoing effort, the 1991 murder of a 23-year-old woman.
 
He likens his group’s role to that of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, noting “Judges for Justice enters the fray and is a gadfly, creating a tension in society, applying pressure to get people to challenge and question the status quo.”

Mike HeaveyMike HeaveyThose familiar with Ancient Greek history will recall that Socrates was forced by Athenians weary of his pressures on their society to drink the poisoned Hemlock.
 
There are those in justice and law enforcement establishments upset by Heavey’s efforts because of their desire to resist freeing a prisoner they had roles in imprisoning who might wish to find the legal version of a dose of Hemlock to have Heavey drink.
 
Among them likely the Hawaii Innocence Project, which filed a complaint with the Washington Bar Association over Heavey’s involvement in Hawaii.
 
But in another instance, his four years of effort that resulted in the release of Chris Tapp, wrongfully convicted in Idaho for murder and rape, after serving 20 years of a life sentence, earned Heavey nomination for a bar association award.
 
The impetus for Heavey’s focus on the wrongfully imprisoned was a case that attracted global attention: the trial, conviction, and imprisonment of his daughter’s high school friend, Amanda Knox.
 
He got involved in the Knox case in 2008, the year following her arrest and that of her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito in Perugia, Italy, for the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kircher.
 
Heavey said he found the case unsettling because the Amanda Knox he knew as she was growing up differed so greatly from how she was portrayed in the media. He said as he examined the case more closely, he saw distinct indications of a wrongful conviction.
 
Amanda and Raffaele were convicted of murder in December of 2009 and she spent four years in prison before her conviction was overturned by the Italian appellate court, with the help of Heavey’s visibility efforts. She was allowed to go free and return to Seattle where she published a memoir recalling her ordeal.
 
In creating his Judges for Justice (JFJ) soon thereafter, Heavey zeroed in on another case that his efforts have made highly visible, the Christmas Eve 1991 abduction, rape, and murder of 23-year-old Dana Ireland on the Big Island of Hawaii.
 
Three men, including two native Hawaiians, were convicted and imprisoned. One, Frank Pauline, has since been murdered while in a New Mexico prison.
 
Heavey undertook the Dana Ireland murder case of the three convicted men because he said the DNA evidence from the crime didn’t match any of the three. And the prosecution knew that.
 
Since then JFJ has produced a 14-part documentary titled Murder in Hawaii that uses what he insists were the wrongful convictions for Dana Ireland’s murder as the main case study for their exploration. It is designed to help answer two questions: “How you can tell if a case is a wrongful conviction” and “How you can help free a wrongfully convicted person.”
 
His visibility campaign to mount public support has included one mailer, sent to 50,000 households on the Big Island, to get people to watch Episode 11 that shows how the real killer can be caught. He said the episode has now attracted more 35,000 YouTube viewers.
 
A second mailer this past July went to the 50,000 households on the Big Island plus another 50,000 in the Honolulu area urging people to watch Murder in Hawaii in general.
 
It’s the kind of documentary about which I’m frankly surprised he hasn’t found an interested television station, or potential corporate supporters, to air it somewhere that the wrongful-conviction issue has been raised.
 
In fact, JFJ is filing a motion this week with the Hawaii Supreme Court contending two Hawaii lawyers violated professional ethics “by intentionally concealing DNA evidence that might have exonerated Pauline and freed him,” asking “appropriate action” by the court.
 
Heavey, who celebrated his 75th birthday earlier this month, brings an interesting legal background to his Judges for Justice leadership, including his 14 years in the Washington State Legislature and 12 as a King County Superior Court judge.
 
But his non-legal background helps set him apart. He is about to reach 19 years of remission from the non-Hodgkin Lymphoma with which he was diagnosed in 2003. That’s the kind of cancer that claimed the lives of Paul Allen and Blake Nordstrom.
 
He has marked his cancer remission anniversaries by climbing a mountain each year, beginning in 2006 with a climb of Mt. Rainier, accomplishments that are part of what he refers to as the inner “healing force inside of us.”
 
He did five climbs of Mt. Rainier as well as various other Northwest peaks and once, with his 30-year friend, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (elected to the legislature in 1987, the same year Heavey was), the 19,340-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro. That 2013 climb of the “Roof of Africa” was guided by their mutual friend, and mine, Seattle investment advisor John Rudolf.
 
In addition to this week’s appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court, the other case in which JFJ is actively involved, along with the Ohio Innocence Project, is on behalf of Wayne Brady and Karl Willis, both black men, who have been imprisoned for 22 years.
 
JFJ sent political-type 6-by-11 postcards to 30,000 “frequent voter households” in the Toledo area, a list including the judges and prosecutors who would be involved in the sought-after retrial of the two.
 
To emphasize the importance of the Judges for Justice effort, Heavey notes that a recent study of those freed after being imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit found that 117 of those exonerated had been on death row.
 
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Alaska Airlines' Santa Fantasy Flight for needy Spokane kids to mark 25th anniversary

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“The world needs a good Christmas this year,” enthused Steve Paul, who becomes Chief Elf Bernie each year at this time, as he shared his excitement at the approaching 25th anniversary of the Spokane Fantasy Flight to the North Pole that carries orphans and foster children aboard an Alaska Airlines737-900 from Spokane to visit Santa.

And the world would likely enthuse with him if they could be on hand the afternoon of December 11 as the 60 children, ages 4 to 10, and their elves board what has traditionally been Alaska Flight 1225, dubbed “Santa 1,” at Spokane International Airport for their flight to Santa’s home to visit with the Jolly Old Elf and Mrs. Clause. The special flight was suspended last Christmas season because of COVID.

Elf Bernie Steve PaulI’ve come to describe the spirit that settles over all those involved as the Magic Dust of Christmas Caring. That spirit is evidenced by the Spokane residents who help prepare for months for the event, the businesses that donate all the products that make the event happen, the Alaska employees who participate as crew and elves, and the airline itself for making its years-long commitment of plane, crew and a large slice of the caring.

The kids and their elves, as many as 10 of whom have been involved for all 25 flights, missing only 2020’s canceled flight, will all be wearing the required masks that may hide their smiles but the excitement each of the children feels will likely be visible in their eyes. And Paul said the volunteers will only number 200, noting “we’re keeping number low for risk mitigation.”

Paul, who in his other life is a digital IT program manager at Engie Impact, a Spokane energy management company, has been president and CEO of Northwest North Pole Adventures, the 501c3 that oversees everything related to planning and carrying out this special event.

My first Harp on the Fantasy Flight was 2010 thanks to my friend, Blythe Thimsen, then editor of Spokane & Coeur d’ Alene Living, who was an elf that year and sent me her article and filled me in on details, including a picture of her in her costume that I’ve included again in this 12th Fantasy Flight Harp,

While the event was born 25 years ago, some of the happenings that came to occupy space in one or another of the Harps since then have endured in the holiday event.

Notable among those developments has been the role pilot Eric Hrivnek has come to play for a half dozen years or so. Once again, in addition to being the pilot at the controls for the 20-minute flight, he will be the person who advises that it’s time for the magic chant of the youngsters that allows the plane to cross the North Pole barrier.

Alaska Santa FlightAs the kids pull down their shades and do the chant each will wave a magic wand they will be given as they board, then Hrivnek will deploy the engine thrusters when Santa and Rudolph appear on the radar screen to confirm that the “Santa 1” flight has entered North Pole airspace.

Then the jetliner will taxi to a hanger on the other side of the airport and, as the passengers deplane, they will be greeted by a group of elves, though Paul said the live reindeer that have milled around in years past won’t be there this year and meet Santa and Mrs. Clause.

When it comes time for each child’s personal visit with Santa, who will have received their lists ahead of time, a gift will be selected for each from their lists so Santa can reach into his sack and say “I got your list. Look here!”

An indication of the place this event holds in the hearts of Alaska employees is that one-year Hrivnek (pictured below with a friend) didn't get his bid in to be at the controls so he didn't get to go. He made sure thereafter that he was first in line.

United Airlines actually did the fantasy trip from 1999 to 2007 but it was a commitment of the local United team rather than the company itself with United Spokane team corralling an airliner overnighting in Spokane but because there was no provision for the “flight” to carry the kids aloft, the plane taxied around and stopped at a hanger.

It was while he was traveling for Itron, the Spokane-based global energy and water management company, that Paul saw a poster at the airport promoting United’s “flight” in 2000 and with that, he was hooked and thereafter took charge of overseeing all the planning and resolving the challenges.

He was asked to step into a leadership role in 2006 and his first crisis came as they prepared for the 2007 flight only to learn that United had no planes available in Spokane. So he recalled, “we had to revert to school buses on the field surrounded by emergency escorts with flashing lights. Actually, it worked because all the windows were fogged up and the flashing lights as we headed to the North Pole made it very magical.”

“After the 2007 problem I reached out to United about more of a commitment, including a plan for a plane and a flight,” Paul said. “They had no interest. The Fantasy Flight leadership approached Southwest. They had no interest either.”

“It was then that I suggested Alaska Airlines and a contact in my neighborhood helped me reach out to Alaska’s marketing department and the rest (including his question ‘why can’t we take off,’ to which Alaska basically replied ‘of course we can’) has been a 14-year partnership.”

Alaska Air Group CEO Ben Minicucci summed up what he described as "the strong culture of kindness and caring at Alaska Airlines," noting "that's something that differentiates us and it really shines through in moments like this."

Paul noted that many of the founding members from United’s Spokane operation have continued to be involved and remain involved today, including Mrs. Clause, Leslie Lathrop.

And as always, Alaska and Horizon employees, though mainly from the Spokane and Puget Sound areas, include individuals from across the system, this year from Boise, San Diego, Henderson, NV, and Bloomington, MN.

Blythe ThimsenLocal merchants provide the kids' things like pajamas, Lands End snow boots and gloves, T-shirts, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

There used to be other airlines that did Christmas flights of one extent or another for needy kids but 2020 would have halted any that were going on and a search in preparation for this column didn’t turn up any such holiday trips, no indication that Alaska isn’t now alone as providing this annual trip for children.

This will be a familiar story, with new details, for longtime subscribers to the Harp. But retelling and updating the story has been my holiday gift since that first column in 2010because it’s a story of human caring and compassion, and commitment by an array of local businesses and volunteers and a major airline, virtually without fanfare.

It’s a story that not only won’t get old but perhaps becomes more needed each year. Maybe particularly this year.

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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.
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“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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Prominent Athira investors remain strong supporters of ex-CEO Kawas

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The group of prominent men and women who are among Athira Pharma’s most respected investors are also among founding CEO Leen Kawas’ staunchest supporters. Thus they are still trying to understand how what she did in altering an image in her doctoral dissertation was a serious enough offense to merit being forced to leave the biotech company she helped found.
 
Each of the investors, who are friends of mine, were concerned when she was put on leave in June when they felt less severe steps could have been taken and would have been by most other firms, steps like having her take early family leave since she was about eight weeks away from the arrival of her second child, while the board attempted to sort out relevant facts.
 
Kawas, a Jordanian whom I described from the time I first met her eight years ago as the model of an immigrant entrepreneur, agreed with the board last week that she would resign from the leadership of the company, originally named M3, that she had helped birth in the lab a decade ago and had guided as CEO since 2013 through research, fundraising and eventual IPO a year ago.
 
Because my wife has Parkinsons and Kawas told me when we first met that Parkinson’s was the target of their drug aimed at reversing neurodegeneration, or the death of brain cells, I told her she was my company and I would help her.
 
That was the fall of 2012 and over the next year, I introduced her to prospective investors in this state and California, calling anyone I knew who could afford the $50,000 initial investment and pressed them to listen to her compelling slide presentation. We raised about $1.5 million. Before that process began, she permitted me to be her initial investor, important so that if prospective investors asked “are you in?” I could say “of course.”
 
Along the way, I was with her when she got her green card and she called me in January 2020 to tell me she was about to become a U.S. citizen, prompting my column that month that began:

“Despite Leen Kawas' string of successes in her role as CEO of Athira Pharma and her quest to change the world with the company's drug aimed at reversing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, this may be her most exciting day, the day she became an American citizen.”

Leen KawasLeen KawasAfter my year of introductions, I told her “you now know real scientists and people with real money rather than just a retired newspaper publisher, so I’m going to go do some other things because you are in good hands.”

In addition, by then she told me that the company's first target would need to be Alzheimers because it was easier to raise money for Alzheimer's than Parkinson's. Though she explained to me that "when we have done Alzheimer's, we'll turn to Parkinson's and we'll be 60 percent along the way."
 
And so she was in good hands since both the scientists and “big money people” helped ensure successful fundraising efforts, including money from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Fund, over the next half dozen years leading up to the company’s Initial Public Offering a year ago that raised $204 million.
 
Along the way Kawas, now 37, attracted a lot of personal attention, including Geekwire’s CEO of the year award in 2019 and the fact that in guiding Athira to its IPO she became the first woman CEO in 20 years in this state to take a company public.

If becoming a citizen was her most exciting day, last week, when she told the board she was agreeing to leave, must have been the saddest day.
 
“Creating this company and watching it grow toward a success I know it will achieve will be like watching my two babies grow,” said Kawas when she told me she was expecting her second child, who was born in early August.
 
Early on, Kawas was the beneficiary of believers who came to her aid as investors, mentors, and supporters because they were convinced she had the ability to bring to market a drug that would alter the course of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and thus change the future for millions of people.
 
As I have reached out to those investor friends, all early investors, some of whom I will quote below, I found to a person they remain believers in her, whatever her next step.
 
But her supporters, those who are friends of mine, have decided together not to raise a fuss with the company lest any negative expressions from such prominent people toward the Athira board have an adverse effect on the company or its progress.
 
Robert W. “Spike” Anderson, whose Anderson Damon Worldwide was a Costco global partner from the birth of the membership warehouse retailer and an investor in the biotech startup’s earliest days, expressed disappointment that Kawas is no longer running the company.
 
“I am not concerned about a mistake Leen may have made as a doctoral student. which did not have any impact on Athira today,” said Anderson, who has continued to be a startup entrepreneur. “She has successfully run the company almost since its founding and her tireless work and intellect are largely responsible for developing Athira’s lead therapeutic candidate, which has tremendous promise. I was a fan of Leen at the beginning and remain a fan.”
 
Michael Nassirian, an Iranian immigrant whose father sent him away from his troubled country to get his degree at the University of Texas and who went on to become a top executive at Microsoft before retiring in 2016, made this point to me: “as a middle easterner, I’m the only one who can share her pain because I know the cultural impact, and effect on families, of being accused of doing what she was accused of with her doctoral program.”
 
Nassirian, whose father headed the Iranian oil company and died with Alzheimer’s, heard Kawa's presentation before the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce in 2014 and told her he was in as an investor.
 
Carol Criner, one of the first people I introduced Kawas to and who quickly became her first female investor and has remained a business advisor, said she was “impressed and inspired by Leen’s vision for what is now Athira Pharma. Her story is incredible and I obviously hoped she would remain as CEO.”
 
Criner, a technology executive who currently serves as Vice President of Strategic Accounts for HCL Technologies, a $10 billion global technology company, added: “There’s a reason the windshield is larger than the rearview mirror. Leen will accomplish her future goals.”

Jim Warjone, chairman emeritus of Port Blakely, the major timber and real estate company that he guided as chairman and CEO, described Kawas as "a truly inspirational and extremely competent leader and the technology she created will dramatically impact a dreadful disease."
 
I thought it was important to include a quote relating to the importance of the future of Athira’s key drug nearing the completion of clinical trials.
 
“The Athira drug is a miracle drug,” said Dr. Patricia Galloway, who chairs Cle Elum-based Pegasus-Global Holdings, an international management consulting firm whose husband, Jim, has been a beneficiary of the clinical trials for ATH-1017.
 
“Not only is it promising but my husband is rebounding,” she said. “He can now do things he couldn’t do six months ago and the cognitive and memory issues are dramatically improving, each and every day.”
 
"I am so grateful for this breakthrough discovery and for what it has to offer to not only my husband but for all who suffer from the potential deadliest disease that has been virtually untreatable until now,” Galloway added. “Thank you, Leen, for your vision and the gift that you have given to the world and bringing back my husband.”

 
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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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No 10th-anniversary party for Tacoma Rainiers, but a season to remember

Tacoma-Rainiers-Logo

While there was no formal 10th-anniversary celebration for the Tacoma Rainiers in this COVID- impacted season, winning the Triple-A West Division title, the club’s first league title, has made it a season to remember.

And in many respects, the 2021 season for the franchise and the ownership group put together a decade ago by Mikal Thomsen to buy the team he had followed since boyhood was a season of accomplishment worthy of marking an anniversary year. And providing an occasion for reflection.

Less likely to be memorable is major league baseball’s decision to have a 10-game post-season “Triple-A Stretch” in which all 30 teams in four AAA divisions, including the West Division, that Tacoma won, will play into October.

Mikal ThomsenMikal ThomsenAs Major League Baseball’s website explained, “among all 30 clubs, a single 2021 Triple-A Final Stretch Winner will be crowned across both leagues based on highest overall winning percentage during a 10-game schedule immediately following the originally scheduled championship season.”

When I suggested it seemed a rather strange AAA finale, Thomsen offered, “I’ll take the regular-season crown, happily.”

The Rainiers are at Round Rock (an Austin, TX, suburb) for five games starting this week and then home for five games against Salt Lake, starting the 29th

As Thomsen explained, “we have two weeks of games that do not count towards any title but will both pay the players more money and provide a place for all MLB teams to have their top prospects play another two weeks as we missed out on April games this year due to COVID.”

Thus the season didn’t actually begin until May and social distancing mandates were in place for May and June. But in July and August attendance and revenue were, as Thomsen explained, “within spitting distance of the same months in 2019.”

Reviewing how this 2021 season unfolded, Thomsen offered a particular focus on rookie manager Kris Negron, “a thirty-something guy who played for the Rainiers in 2019 and this team playing with verve and gusto.” And, much to the team’s family focus, Negron, Thomsen said, took paternity leave mid-season (something not likely to be said about many baseball managers, even in this era).

Thomsen said of the fans, who returned in respectable numbers by season end, “They are buying R hats and munching on the Best Hot Dog in Baseball as they cheered on the first place Tacoma Rainiers.”

But as indicated earlier, this Harp is not so much about the success of a minor league baseball team, albeit the key minor league relationship for the Seattle Mariners, as it is a reminder of what may be the most appealing story in all of baseball.

It’s a story that began in 1960 when a three-year-old went along with his father to the first professional baseball game in 55 years in Tacoma to watch the then-Giants, the new Triple-A farm team of the San Francisco Giants.

As I wrote in a column six years ago, that first game ignited a life-long affection of a kid, then a man, for his hometown baseball team. And though he grew up to make his name and fortune over two decades in the cellular-wireless industry, Thomsen's "dream come true" is played out each year.

That’s how he first described to me what it was like to become CEO and, with his wife, Lynn, the major investor in the Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League baseball.

The Thomsens put together a team of investors prior to the 2011 season to join them in owning the Rainiers. The ownership team that may be unique in Major League Baseball includes his sports “boss” in a sense, John Stanton, the CEO and majority owner of the Mariners, and his wife, Terry. But, of course, Stanton is also his business partner in Bellevue-based Trilogy Partnerships.

”I spent a good portion of six months during the fall and winter of 2010-2011 deciding to make a bid and then raising the equity and debt to close the sale,” Thomsen recalled when I asked him about seizing the opportunity to buy the franchise.

“That was finalized at the end of March of 2011, just in time to open the baseball season and open in a revamped Cheney Stadium which had undergone a nearly $30 million public-private makeover. The stadium was beautiful, a significant upgrade from the one where I had spent significant parts of my summertime youth running around during the ’60s.”

Thomsen’s father died a couple of years before the purchase of the team but he said “Most of our last conversations were about baseball. I wish every day that he had been,” he said, relating to the possibility that his father would have still been alive then.

“We did hold my Mom’s 90th birthday party (they were married for 57 years) at Cheney Stadium earlier this month, though,” he added.

I asked Thomsen for this column if it still feels like a dream come true.

“It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” he replied. “I continue to have fun with it, and I genuinely look at it as a public trust. We own it for a while, as did others before us and as will others after us. But keeping it going for the community is the key aspect.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That ignited a life-long affection of a kid, then a man, for his hometown baseball team.
Although he grew up to make his name and fortune over two decades as he became a leading figure in the cellular industry, Thomsen's "dream come true" is played out each year as CEO of the Rainiers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So to those who would mouth dire predictions should Congress begin considering what should become of the nation’s tech giants, the counter should be “remember AT&T.”
 
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