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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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Reflecting on AT&T breakup, the innovative success that followed

att

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Cody Peterson's disruptive inventions aren't unnoticed

rohinni_lighting_spool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Maybe Seahawks could start a new 'Wilson era,' with Zach — not Russell

Zach-Wilson_BYU-Quarterback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are there any boomtowns that could be likely ZoomTowns?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Greetings in Christmas art from long years ago

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

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

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

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

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

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                   ..z$$$$$$$$$h,   `$$$$$$P"..`!f !f ~)Lze$$$P""""?i
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               .K$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$,    P.>e'!f !~ ed$$P".!!!!!!!!`.d"
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             -*". . "??$$$$$$$$$$$$      ~ `z$$$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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The saving of NatureBridge was one of the hero stories of 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Snowflake celebration sets the stage for Bellevue Square 75th year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

washington-state-capitol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Quest for 20 to honor for COVID creativity and caring strategies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARES-Nevada-Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Port-of-Seattle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Deeds of Brien Wygle, like many in retirement, tucked away until his death brought recall

Brien Wygle Brien Wygle - photo by Getty.edu

Brien Wygle was comfortable with risky environments, whether in the air as a test pilot for Boeing and later in life flying aerobatic biplanes or on the water as a hydroplane racer. But after hydroplane legend Bill Muncey ran over the right half of his hull at 200-plus miles an hour to get past him in a race on Lake Washington, Wygle decided the skies were safer.

Wygle’s death on September 15 at the age of 96 at The Bellettini retirement community in Bellevue, where he had moved in 2017, reminded me of the Muncey story he told me one day when we were visiting.

His career as a hydroplane driver had been for a brief two years in 1957 to 1958, although his races on the circuit, driving the Thriftway Too and Hawaii Kai III, included the major ones like the Gold Cup, Diamond Cup, and Sierra Cup.
But it was flying that Wygle loved, from the time the Calgary native was a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II in Europe, India, and Burma.

He joined Boeing in 1951 in Wichita as a flight test pilot and stayed 39 years, retiring as vice president of Flight Operations in 1990.

So what prompts me to do my column as an obit on Wygle this week? The fact that his story, like those of many people of advanced age, living quietly in retirement communities or remaining cared for in their homes, stay tucked away in their minds or scrapbooks or photo albums until death allows the world to revisit their special moments.

Those like William H, Gates Sr., who died a day earlier, appropriately have their stories and contributions spread across their communities’ awareness right up to the day they die.

So back to Wygle. His love of flying continued into his 80s, retiring when his hearing loss required it at age 84.

And regarding the Muncey incident that made Wygle decide to stick to the challenges of the skies, he recalled he was leading Muncey and as they came out of the turn, he “heard the roar of Muncey’s boat overtaking me and suddenly there he was roaring over the side of my boat.”

“The damn guy didn’t care if he killed me or not as long as he got past me,” Wygle recalled. “I figured the next time might not be one I survived, so I packed it in.”

And regarding the Muncey incident that made Wygle decide to stick to the challenges of the skies, he recalled he was leading Muncey and as they came out of the turn, he “heard the roar of Muncey’s boat overtaking me and suddenly there he was roaring over the side of my boat.”

“The damn guy didn’t care if he killed me or not as long as he got past me,” Wygle recalled. “I figured the next time might not be one I survived, so I packed it in.”

Though less visible than those of the most prominent, his contributions were nonetheless meaningful and important to remember.

He sponsored minority engineering students at the University of Washington and worked to advance women and minority engineers. He volunteered to tutor adults seeking their GED.


More visibly, he was a founder of the Museum of Flight and on its board for several years.

So there you have the story of the contributions that made Brien Wygle special, even if tucked away to be recalled only at his death.
 
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A hope that recalling 9/11 unity can remind us of what unity looks like

911-memorial

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


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

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

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Angel investor leaders are applauding a Securities and Exchange Commission decision that essentially adds brainpower to wealth as qualifications to be "accredited investor." The decision is seen as a key to bringing more investors to the capital market at a time when the COVID-decimated economy needs a dramatic assist, as well as in the future.
 
Those angel leaders in the Northwest and elsewhere that I reached out to for comment saw the decision as an "enlightened" action by the federal regulatory body and one likely to bring much-needed capital to early-stage companies.
 
What the SEC did earlier this month was amend its "accredited investor" definition to allow investors to qualify based on defined measures of professional knowledge, experience, or certifications in addition to the nearly four-decades-old tests for income and net worth.  
 
"For the first time, individuals will be permitted to participate in our private capital markets not only based on their income or net worth but also based on established, clear measures of financial sophistication," said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, in a statement accompanying the August 19 announcement.  
 
An accredited investor is an individual or a business entity that is allowed to trade securities, often higher risk, that may not be registered.
 
Prior to this SEC decision, investors needed to earn at least $200,000 in annual income ($300,000 for married couples), or have $1 million in net assets, excluding their primary residence, to count as "accredited."  
 
For decades, the SEC had allowed only the wealthy to make private venture investments, largely because of their presumed greater ability to sustain losses and fend for themselves. 

After this change, having sufficient "knowledge and expertise" is all it takes.
 
"This enlightened SEC action will pave the way for thoughtful sophisticated investors to invest in the startup community and bring much-needed capital into very early-stage companies," said Bill Payne, viewed by many as the nation's dean of angel investors. Payne has not only invested in a number of Northwest startups but has launched angel-investor groups in a number of cities.
 
"There are 400 angel groups in the U.S. in all kinds of different neighborhoods: urban, rural, academic. cross-border, etc.," added Payne, who in addition to his angel-investor leadership in this country spent a year in New Zealand, at the invitation of that nation's government, teaching angel investing. "I am sure some ecosystems will choose to focus on sophisticated investors."
 
"My angel colleagues generally welcome this regulatory improvement because it will bring more business-literate shareholders to the high-risk equity sector," said longtime investment leader John Fluke, chairman of Fluke Capital, which he has guided since its founding in 1981. "And perhaps it will induce high-risk equity enterprises to develop more pragmatic and realistic business plans."
 
"That definition now includes individuals with specific investment subject-matter expertise, regardless of whether such individuals met traditional annual income and net worth criteria," added Fluke, who is now mostly involved in angel investing.
 
"I am pretty excited about this SEC action," enthused Elizabeth Marchi, whom I have described in several columns as "Montana's queen of angel investing" because she oversaw three angel groups in the state from her and husband, Jon's, cattle ranch near Polson.
 
Marchi, who now serves as the head of marketing for an interesting new White Fish-based venture fund named Two Bear Capital, said the decision "embodies Chairman Clayton's attitude that there shouldn't be arbitrary thresholds. This will help reach innovators and problem solvers beyond the ecosystem centers."
 
Richard Sudek, chairman emeritus of Tech Coast Angels, whose 400 members spread across units in five Southern California counties make it the nation's largest angel group, said the SEC decision "will likely allow significant additional investment capital to flow into an economy at this virus-impacted time."
 
"However, this decision could have an important long-lasting impact beyond the pandemic," added Sudek, who in his post-angel career helped guide creation of the Applied Innovation Center at U-Cal Irvine and serves as its executive director and Chief Innovation Officer. "It could accelerate small business starts as well as help small businesses grow quicker and larger."
 
"I do feel the expansion offers an opportunity to grow the private investment community for early-stage companies," offered Brianna McDonald, who with her husband, Nathan, guides the Northwest chapter of the international angel investor network, Keiretsu. He is CEO and managing partner and she is president of the Keiretsu Forum Northwest.
 
"As a membership organization we depend a lot on leveraging others' experiences and expertise and over the years we have called on these individuals to help with diligence, but they would do the work and not be able to participate in the investment," she said. "With the potential pool opening, we now need to put an even bigger focus on education."
 
In an example of the perpetual dynamic tension on the five-member commission over its conflicting roles of facilitating capital formation while protecting investors, the two Democrat appointees voted against the decision, saying it could leave investors vulnerable.
 
Gary Ritner, founder and president of the Puget Sound Venture Club, the Seattle angel group that celebrates its 35th anniversary this fall, suggested there was some legitimacy to the concerns of the SEC's minority.
 
"With statistics indicating that on average half of the deals that attract angel investment go broke in the first two years," said Ritner. "Long term, an investor will likely make money, but how many of this type of investor can emotionally live with the potential of the early losses."
 
But having offered those thoughts, Ritner shared with me the strongly positive reaction of the Angel Capital Association (ACA),
The North American professional organization of active accredited investors.  
 
"This action will significantly impact the availability of capital to cutting-edge innovative start-up companies that are the foundation for job creation in our nation," said the ACA.

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