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Green Bay Packers' most ardent fans? In Spokane!?!?

spokane_packers

While the Green Bay Packers were the enemy to fans looking on at TV screens in Seattle Sunday as they ended the playoff hopes of the Seattle Seahawks, it's an interesting sports history footnote that there was a time when Spokane area football fans were among the Packers' most ardent fans.
 
That was because a Gonzaga Bulldog running back was at the forefront of Green Bay's offense in the '40s. In fact, Anthony Robert (Tony) Canadeo set the Packers' career rushing record, carving out 4,000 yards during his career from 1941 to 1952 even though he lost almost three years for World War II service in the U.S. Army

In fact, Canadeo, who was not just the star running back for the Packers but in some years a key passer, set the single-season rushing record of 1,052 yards in 1949, then only the third NFL player to have a 1,000-yard season.
 
He was not only the Packers' leading rusher in 1943 but also their leading passer. Additionally, he caught two touchdown passes that year.
 
Canadeo's career offered proof of one of my favorite sayings, that the chain of fortune formed by fate is sometimes composed of strange links. Fate played a role in his arrival at Gonzaga and at Green Bay.
 
He actually got to Gonzaga by accident. That was because a high school friend of his in Chicago who was offered a football scholarship by Gonzaga made it clear he wasn't coming to Gonzaga unless his friend also got a scholarship. So Tony came to Spokane to play football with a friend long since forgotten.
 
Canadeo, who was known as the "Gray Ghost of Gonzaga" because of his prematurely gray hair, was selected by the Packers in the 9th round, as the 77th overall pick in the 1941 NFL draft.
 
And in fact, it was by accident that he was available to Packers' coach Curley Lambeau to draft.
 
Seems that Ray Flaherty, the NFL all-star end who had played his college football at Gonzaga before becoming one of the NFL's most successful coaches with the Washington Redskins, had intended to draft Canadeo but figured other teams would bypass him and he'd be available when Flaherty got around to him.
 
Flaherty, who always returned home to Spokane in the offseason, told me once during an interview in the late '60s at his Northern Idaho home that his friends always pressed him to draft the top Gonzaga players and he chuckled as he said he got a lot of heat from those friends for letting Canadeo get away.
 
And a year later, when Flaherty's Redskins won the 1941 NFL title, he had Gonzaga Bulldogs Ray and Cecil Hare in his backfield, likely one of the few if not only times that an NFL champion had two running backs from the same small college, and brothers, in the backfield.
 
In fact, Flaherty's Redskins held their training camp in Spokane in 1940 and 1941.
 
It wasn't until Jim Brown became the Packers' star running back in the late '50s that Canadeo's records fell.
 
And both Canadeo and Flaherty are in the NFL Hall of Fame, Flaherty as a coach and Canadeo as a player.

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PART 2 - A Decade of the most memorable Harps

Decades_Most-memorable_2

(This is the second of two articles in which I am offering readers of The Harp a reprise of the stories from the past decade that were most memorable to me, some of which got little in the way of broad visibility but all of which got repeated visibility here for reasons that will become obvious.)


The story that was my personal favorite was actually several Harps relating to my friend Joseph L. (Joe) Galloway, one of the best-known correspondents of the Vietnam War, who has been on the road much of the past decade doing interviews with veterans of that conflict to preserve their memories.

The interviews by Galloway have been part of the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration to honor those who fought in that war but were never thanked when they returned to a divided nation.
 
Galloway's travels to do the interviews, mostly about two hours in length and which he told me now number about 400, embody his commitment to producing the "the body of material for future generations who want to know what this war was all about."  
 
The formal launch of the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration was on Memorial Day of 2012 and since 2013 Joseph L. (Joe) Galloway, one of the best-known correspondents of that war, has been on the road doing interviews with veterans of that conflict to preserve their memories.

Galloway, a reporter assigned by United Press International to cover the war, was selected by the Defense Department unit charged with administering the program to do the interviews to preserve for future generations.

Galloway, decorated for battlefield heroism at the Battle of Ia Drang in November of 1965 where he was the only correspondent and joked to me that he turned in his camera and took a machine gun, spent a week doing interviews in Seattle in the spring of 2015. I had urged him to come to Seattle for a round of interviews and found KCPQ TV willing to make its studios available for his interviews. He returned to Seattle for another round of interviews two years later.

I've written several columns on Galloway and his Vietnam interviews, partly because we were UPI colleagues (he in war zones and I as a political writer and later a Pacific Coast executive for the company). But in a broader sense because of a fascination with his perspectives on the war in articles and speeches, and the import of the battle in the Ia Drang Valley that Galloway and the late Gen. Hal Moore, then a lieutenant colonel in command of the U.S. Army forces in that battle, made famous in their book and a subsequent movie.

The battle became the subject of Galloway's and Moore's book, "We Were Soldiers Once...and Young," and the resulting movie, "We Were Soldiers," as well as a second book, "We are Still Soldiers... A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam" when the two returned to the battlefield years late.

In an earlier column, I quoted Galloway about his time on the battlefield, particularly at Ia Drang: "The men I met and the time we spent together fighting for one another was a life-changing experience that transcends the bonds of friendship and brotherhood."

During one of our interviews, Galloway said of the Vietnam veterans: "They are not bitter but I am bitter in their behalf. It makes me angry that those who came to hate the war came to hate the warriors who were their sons and daughters."


It was seven years ago that I first learned of and wrote about the then decade-old commitment by Bellevue business leader and philanthropist Joan Wallace to the mostly Hispanic children in the Yakima Valley community of Granger that changed their lives and the life of their community.  

Wallace listened over Thanksgiving dinner in 2003 while Janet Wheaton, her sister in law and principal of Granger Middle School, expressed concern that the children, who had little food at home, would be going hungry without their two in-school meals a day over the Christmas holidays because the school would be out.

When Wallace returned home, an email donation request to pay for Christmas baskets of food went out to a few dozen of her closest friends and associates and soon thereafter, a non-profit named "Children of Granger" was formed.
Joan Wallace

Thus began an ongoing commitment by two women, one an educator and one a prominent Bellevue business leader. Their continuing involvement changed the future for the families in the city of 3,500 where the population is 84 percent Latino or Hispanic and 35 percent of the families live below the poverty level.

After writing the first Granger column, an annual update of the dramatic things that continued to unfold in Granger because of Wallace and Wheaton became my regular Thanksgiving offering to readers of The Harp.

Everything they did was aimed at helping kids break the poverty barrier, from giving each child in all grade levels an annual $200 "slush fund" for things like shoes and coats to giving mothers of pre-schoolers learning toys that brought grants once they had proved the value of their "Ready for Kindergarten" program.

"While doing our best to take care of the immediate needs, we also believe it is equally important to cultivate self-sufficiency and to enable these children to finish school," Wallace said.

But the most dramatic story of the impact that the two women had was with the successful campaign at the middle school five years ago to build a program to improve attendance because of its key to educational advancement. They came up with a slogan that became a mantra, "Every Child, Every desk, Every Day."

Thus in 2014, I was able to share that the little non-profit had put together a relationship with nearby Heritage University and its largely Hispanic student body and that the relationship had led to the first-ever grant to Families of Granger.

The $15,000 grant from the Yakima Valley Community Foundation, due largely to the involvement of Heritage student and mother of four Alma Sanchez, was used to implement an attendance-incentive program that Sanchez had created.

Those two things basically made 2014 the little non-profit's most important year. And there was a degree of magic in the results of Alma's idea. a quarterly incentive program aimed at perfect attendance.

Driven by the attendance-campaign slogan and the commitment of children, parents, and teachers, the school set the mark for best attendance record in the state, with an absentee rate of 4 percent, compared to a statewide average of 16 percent absenteeism, outdoing schools even in places like Mercer Island and Bellevue.  

I knew that accomplishment would go largely unnoticed by media and business leaders in Western Washington. So I met with Kemper Freeman, Pam Pearson of Q13 and Mike Patterson, since deceased, whose law firm represented a number of school districts and together we created a special award called Innovations in Education.

All involved, most especially Wallace, Wheaton, and Alma, were honored at a banquet at the Rainier Club and presented with plaques to help them remember the accomplishment that helped change a community.

The Yakima Foundation got involved with a grant for the attendance campaign and has supported the annual effort since.

Last week an email arrived from Wallace advising that the time for an exit to her active involvement in Granger had arrived. "The time has come and the path is not only clear but exciting and gratifying," she said, adding in the mail to her Friends of Granger, "together we have made a difference." She included a chart that showed "we poured $425,000 into the community."

"Friends of Granger will go back to the community to be run by a committee of teachers and community leaders," Wallace wrote.


My first column on Shabana Khan came when in 2015 when she was struggling to raise sponsor money to put on the Men's World Squash Championship at Meydenbauer Center as the first time ever for the event in the United States and I was asked to help her. I wrote a Harp then because I was intrigued about the sport and her efforts and other Harps followed as I watched her progress.

The men's world event turned out to be a success, attracting attention in all countries where squash is prominent, and within a couple of years, the 51-year-old former national women's squash champion had grown to become nationally and actually globally prominent as the queen of the promoters of the sport of squash.

That growing recognition for her efforts has come as a result of a few giant steps while to her frustration and the frustration of a few key supporters, her local visibility has come in small steps, including virtually no local media visibility.
 
Her late father, Yusuf Khan, brought the sport of squash to Seattle from his native India a half-century ago and, as one of the world's top squash professionals, proceeded to bring Seattle to the attention of the national and international squash establishments. Yusuf, who died in October of 2018 at 87, saw his two daughters become women' national champions, with Shabana beating her sister to claim the national title in 2001.

She put on a squash event last August that was the first of its kind in the country as she created a world invitational squash tournament that attracted the world's top squash talent, six men and six women and was pleased to have the event sponsors name the event after her late father.

The invitational event held at the Hidden Valley Boys & Girls Club in Bellevue was named "PMI Dave Cutler Presents the Yusuf Khan Invitational."

The "PMI Dave Cutler" portion of the title is for the two men, both internationally known in their respective professions, who have become the financial support for YSK Events, the little non-profit through which Khan carries out her squash events.

One is Dave Cutler of Microsoft, universally acclaimed as the key technical brain behind the Microsoft Windows NT and all the subsequent Windows versions. A decade ago he was recognized as a National Medal of Technology and Innovation laureate, perhaps the most prestigious honor in the country for developers of new technology.

The other is Robert Harris, founder, and CEO of PMI-Worldwide, a Seattle-based brand, and product-marketing company with offices in seven cities around the world whose corporate philanthropy has only recently begun to be recognized.

The two have come to team up for a $150,000 donation that for the past several years has allowed Khan to put up the prize money, which this year will total $300,000.

Among her important innovations for the sport has been her National College Showcase for nationally ranked students, 16 men and 16 women, aged 15 to 18, playing before coaches of the top schools where squash is a scholarship sport.  
 
Part of Khan's stated goal is bringing an awareness of squash to young people of all backgrounds rather than merely the children of the squash affluent, whose demographics are men and women, both players and fans, with median incomes of more than $300,000.
It seems that eventually, Khan's efforts on behalf of a sport that has begun growing in this country at a rate third fastest in the world will pay off with attention and support in this region, including sponsorships dollars.


It needs to be noted that when I refer to virtually no local visibility for several of the Harp topics I feature in this decade-ending reprise, I have to single out KCPQ13 television for the manner in which the station picked up on the Harps.

The station's VP and general manager Pam Pearson and her staff seized on the opportunity to provide support for Joe Galloway's veteran interviews and news coverage through his week of conducting interviews. And the station stepped up to be a sponsor of the Innovations in Education event for Joan Wallace and Granger involves. And they did an excellent interview with Art Harrigan that must have made other stations mutter "where the hell were we?"

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A Decade of the most memorable Harps

Decades_Most-memorable

Few journalistic tasks could be more subjectively challenging than that undertaken by various media entities as the old year faded into a new decade and they chose the best or most important news stories of that decade past. Thus came revisiting of the education funding battle, the various clashes over Sound Transit, the drama of Amazon's quest for a second headquarters, Boeing's travails and ventures into the absurdity of the Seattle City Council's machinations. But for me the challenge was easier: choose from a decade of Harps the stories most memorable to me, some of which got little in the way of broad visibility. These are not my most personal Harps like my daughter's selection for the Oregon Supreme Court, my involvement with the rise of the young biotech company, Athira, from being its first outside investor to watching its move toward national Alzheimer's treatment visibility, or my almost yearly opportunities to compete in the World Senior Games. But ones with broad impact that deserved more recognition.


The story that may have been the most impactful on the Seattle area in several ways was about Seattle attorney Arthur Harrigan, Jr., who had key legal roles in saving two of Seattle's professional sports franchises.

Harrigan's low-visibility legal maneuvers forced absentee owners Jeff Smulyan of the Seattle Mariners and five years later Ken Behring of the Seattle Seahawks to be pressed into allowing time for local buyers to be found rather than being permitted to move the teams.

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

Because the Mariners' decision occurred in arbitration session rather than court battles, there was no media visibility for Harrigan's victory that required Smulyan to not only allow an opportunity to find a local buyer but had the arbitrator set a "local value" $35 million below market value for the franchise. No visibility, that is, until Harrigan shared the stories with me nearly four years ago (search Flynn's Harp: Art Harrigan).

And five years after the Mariners were saved, a series of Harrigan legal maneuvers that ended up before the State Supreme Court and eventually NFL owners, left enough uncertainty about Behring's likely ability to move the Seahawks to LA that he sold the team to Paul Allen.

Harrigan's arbitration victory with the Mariners allowed the high-visibility work of then Sen. Slade Gorton and John Ellis in landing Nintendo as the new lead owner to unfold and Paul Allen to emerge as Seahawks owner. But Harrigan deserves a moment of thanks as each Mariner season opens and when Seahawk fans gather for the first game of the year.


The story I personally found most memorable was the quest of Washington State University, President Elson Floyd, to convince a legislature that was initially reluctant to give him a hearing, to create a medical school at WSU.

Getting the 2015 Legislature to approve the creation of a new medical school at WSU, despite bitter opposition from the University of Washington and its powerful lobbying influence, was the crowning achievement of Floyd's eight years as WSU president.

It only later became known, as his battle for his medical school was being won through the tireless effort of hours of testimony before legislative committees and engaging lawmakers in one-on-one meetings, that he was waging another battle.

Floyd apparently learned early in that 2015 session that he had colon cancer, which before long he learned would likely be terminal. But he fought with equal determination for the next four months against his cancer, a battle he would lose, and for his medical school, a battle he won.

He died on June 20, 15 days before Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill containing the first $2.5 million to launch what would soon be named The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, which would be located in Spokane and grow to serve communities in all parts of the state.

As a member of the national advisory board for what is now the Carson College of Business, I had the opportunity to get to know Floyd from soon after his arrival and was stuck, as many others were, with his focus on his conviction about what he viewed as the job-creating mission of higher education.

"We need to communicate with the Legislature and policymakers that we understand that we are about creating jobs, about economic development," Floyd said at his first meeting with the advisory board.

Thus he transformed WSU's role as Washington's land grant university into something far broader. He stood at the national forefront of college leaders in understanding that the role of universities in economic development was destined to become the issue it has become in most states.

And the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, in August of 2017, welcomed its first 60 students to its Spokane campus.


What I describe as the most interesting business-sports story of the decade was the decision by two of the icons of the cellular-wireless era to bring their mutual love of baseball to develop alongside their affection for their wireless business.
John Stanton and Mikal Thomsen were in their 20s when they teamed up in the early '80s at McCaw Cellular to become part of the birthing of a fledgling communications technology whose growth globally they helped guide through several major companies over the next 20 years. Stanton was actually second in command at McCaw.


Now in their early 60s, both have parlayed their business success into owning and guiding professional baseball teams, a commitment both might well agree is a passion that rivals their business activities. Stanton is the majority owner of the Mariners and Thomsen majority owner of the Tacoma Rainiers, making them an anomaly in all of professional baseball since the Rainiers are the Triple-A franchise for the Mariners.  

A business focus remains, however, as they continue to manage their Bellevue-based wireless venture and investment firm, Trilogy Partnerships, formed by a collection of long-time wireless partners after the sale of their Western Wireless to Alltel Corp. in 2005.

Stanton's and Thomsen's baseball involvement extends across the state and down to the West Coast League, an amateur collegiate summer league, where they are among owners of both the Walla Sweets and the Yakima Valley Pippins.

That baseball tie began, in fact, with the Walla Walla team in 2010 when Stanton, an alum of Whitman College, where he served as member and chair of Board of Trustees, called Thomsen and advised that he wanted him to join the ownership group Stanton was forming.
 
Thomsen returned the favor in 2011 when he advised Stanton that he was fulfilling his boyhood dream of owning his hometown Tacoma Rainiers team and wanted Stanton and his wife Theresa Gillespie, to join the ownership team.
 
In both Thomsen's and Stanton's cases, their love of baseball stems from childhood memories.
 
Thomsen once told me that the opportunity to create the ownership team that bought the Rainiers was like his "dream come true." He would be owning his hometown team that he had grown up rooting for from the time his dad took him to his first game at age three. That was the year that the then-Tacoma Giants returned after a 55-year absence.
 
Stanton also recalls attending the games of his hometown team with his father. That was in 1969 when, as a teenager, he became a fan of the Seattle Pilots in their first and only year of existence and recalls crying when they left town for Milwaukee.
 
So now Stanton, who took the title of Mariners CEO for a time after the ownership group he led bought out Nintendo, then turned over that role to Kevin Mather, has returned to officing fulltime in Bellevue where he can wander into Thomsen's office any time to discuss either baseball or wireless.
 
(The second article in this two-part series on my most memorable stories of the decade will be sent tomorrow. They will include a Harp that's my personal favorite because it's about my friend and former colleague, Vietnam correspondent Joe Galloway and his interviews with Vietnam veterans. Then there's the most overlooked story of the decade: the amazing commitment by Bellevue businesswoman Joan Wallace to the children of Granger, and finally the story of the locally overlooked but globally successful promoter of the sport of squash, Shabana Khan)
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Type Art of Old helps say "Thank You" for 2019

crhsitmas-type-2019
Merry Christmas, as I am again blessed to be able to offer to you readers who are kind enough to allow the weekly arrival of Flynn's Harp into your email box. And I am particularly grateful to those who have been on the recipient list for this colunn all or most of the now dozen years since I launched it.
 
Sharing 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 has become my annual way of delivering holiday greetings.
 
While friends 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 of us 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 keyboard, as with the wreath. 
 
Happy Holidays!
  
   
 

                                                +
1                                               "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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Tears and joy flow on Alaska 'Fantasy Flight' from Spokane to North Pole

AA-2019-Fantasy-flight_banner

From the young boy who told his elf "thank you for making this the best day of my life" to the surprise 70th birthday party for Mrs. Clause, this year's Alaska Airlines' "Fantasy Flight" carrying 64 needy kids and their elves to the North Pole from Spokane International Airport brought abundant tears and joy.
 
This story of love and compassion has been Alaska's annual holiday gift to not just the greater Spokane community but also to its employees and to those who, in learning of it, get to share vicariously some of what I've come to refer to as "the magic dust of caring" that's sprinkled on all those involved. This year the volunteers included 15Alaska employees from not just Seattle and Spokane but from far corners or the airline's system.

This "Fantasy Flight" to the North Pole, always known as Santa 1 as it takes wing carrying orphans and foster children ages 4 to 10 from Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, chosen by social service agencies, has been an annual event in Spokane, with sadly only occasional visibility from regular media, for 23 years.
 
But the real magic didn't appear until Alaska got involved in 2008 at the request of Steve Paul, now president and CEO of the non-profit Northwest North Pole Adventures (NNPA), and in his 20th year as a volunteer.
 
United had carried out the holiday event for a number of years but merely taxied the plane around the airport before stopping in front of a north-pole bedecked hanger on the other side of the airport for a party with Santa. But when Paul, then a traveling tech exec and now a senior IT project manager at Spokane energy management company Engie Insight, approached Alaska about replacing United, he asked why the plane couldn't take off and fly around for a bit before arriving at Santa's home. And so it happened.
 
And every year since. So last Saturday evening the kids and their personally selected elves hurried aboard an Alaska 737-900 for a 20-minute flight to visit Santa and Mrs. Clause at their North Pole home.
 
Paul, who is Elf Bernie when he puts on his costume including red top hat, said there were some changes this year, with a new, more expansive hanger arranged for to provide a North Pole Santa's home with more space for volunteers, and a new Santa, the first change in the jolly old man in a number of years.
 
Paul is a senior IT Project Manager at Engje Insight, an energy management company rebranded a couple of years ago from Ecova, who spends much of the year preparing for the flight, working with agencies that select the children, gathering sponsors and overseeing details like elf selection.
 
When I asked Paul prior to last year's column about his elf age, given that he was 43 in people years when he first got involved in 2000, he said his elf age is 907 years, adding that is really only middle age for elves so he still has a ways to go. And he leaves no sign of slowing down.
 
A key part of the event magic in recent years has been Alaska pilot Eric Hrivnak, who has been at the controls for a half dozen or so years. As the flight nears its conclusion, the passengers are told to pull the window shades down and chant the magic words that will allow them to land at the North Pole.  
 
As the kids pull down their shades and do a chant, each wave a magic light wand they were given as they boarded and then Hrivnak deploys the engine thrusters when Santa and Rudolph appear on the radar screen, providing the confirmation that the "Santa 1" flight has entered North Pole airspace.
 
The jetliner taxis to a hanger on the other side of the airport, where the passengers are greeted by a group of elves, with live reindeer milling about, and are they taken to meet Santa and Mrs. Clause.
 
The surprise party for Mrs. Santa was to honor Leslie Lathrop, one of two women founders of the nonprofit, who has been Mrs. Claus 21 of the event's 23 years. As her party began at the donors' celebration, her family emerged from the fireplace in standard Santa style.
 
It was a youngster named Linkin (CQ) whose day of excitement prompted his comment about the best day of his life to his elf, Gwindor, who in real life is Alaska pilot Scott Hitchings, who is retiring next year but told Paul he wants to continue to participate.
 
I first wrote of the event in 2010 when I learned of it from my friend, Blythe Thimsen, then editor of a Spokane magazine, who was to be an elf that year, an experience she shared with me then subsequently wrote about and sent me a copy of the article.
 
And as I explain each year, retelling and updating this story has been my holiday gift to readers of The Harp since then because it's a story of human caring and compassion that not only won't get old but perhaps becomes more needed each year.

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Dan Madsen marks 20 years as CEO of senior-living focused Leisure Care

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As Dan Madsen marks his 20th anniversary as CEO of Leisure Care, which he has guided to a position as one of the nation's largest privately held retirement and assisted living companies, he is unveiling plans for expansion into the U.K. and creating a dramatic new retirement-community addition to the Seattle skyline.  

DanMadsenDan MadsenOver the 30 years since he joined Leisure Care, founded in 1976 by Chuck and Karen Lytle, he has advanced from general manager of one of the communities to operations director, then CEO and eventually owner and took Leisure Care from a national player to one with an international presence.

So now he's embarked on expanding that international presence, which currently includes senior communities in India and Mexico, into London, through a partnership with Elysian residences. The London venture involves the construction of four communities that will include what are described as "five-star hotel services" with Elysian as the developer and Leisure care as the operator.

The Seattle community, which will be Leisure Care's 10th retirement community in Washington State but the first in Seattle, is Murano Senior Living, under development in the First Hill Neighborhood.  

Murano, planned for opening in the fall of 2019, will be a 23-story retirement community described as "the area's premier senior living community" with independent and assisted living and memory care. It will offer what the company describes as"sweeping views of Puget Sound, Mount Rainer, the Cascade Mountains, and downtown Seattle from the top floor club room."

Murano, with 243 units, will join the company's headquarters high up in the Wells Fargo Building as Leisure Care's downtown presence. Spread across the western half of the floor with Sound and mountains view as the backdrop the headquarters has workstations, meeting areas and bistro in an open concept where Madsen and top executives have no offices.  

"I like to be in the middle of everything,' Madsen says with a laugh about guiding the company that is now the 5th largest assisted-living company in the country.

Both the London projects and Murano exemplify Madsen's business model, which is involved with one or more financial partners in each development.

"We and our various partners have 16 properties under development around the U.S., and four in London, and two in Mexico," Madsen explained in an interview, noting that will give Leisure Care 40 communities "on a quick pace toward 50 and over $2 billion under management."

Seattle-based Columbia Pacific Advisors and its founder and now chairman Daniel Baty, a well-known developer of retirement communities and health-care facilities, serves as Leisure Care's development partner in a number of markets.  

As Madsen explains the process, "Columbia Pacific creates a fund for a community, I invest in the fund, which then hires a developer to do the building and contract with Leisure Care to operate it."

Madsen has spent his career focused on aging and helping his customers push back against it. One innovation in that direction was his addition in 2008 of a hospitality model that he named Leisure Care One Eighty, which prompted one interviewer to observe "Leisure Care is the only senior-living provider that has a travel agency,"

"We had always been hospitality driven, but 180 allowed us to take hospitality and some of our other products and services and virtually integrate them in Leisure Care," Madsen said.

It's far more than that from a business perspective since Madsen explains that One Eighty was designed to be a parent of several verticals "so the various companies, could operate from their own P&Ls, as well as have different investment horizons."

But Madsen is quick to point out that the One Eighty name is significant for the company, not just as an unusual business model.

"The name comes from believing that we approach business differently, highly focused on the company culture of a 'three thirds' lifestyle," he said.  "Family is the highest priority, followed by philanthropy and giving back to the community, and finally the company."

It was those family and philanthropic characteristics that led to the creation of One Eighty Foundation in 2010 as the vehicle for Leisure Care's community and nonprofit involvements.

With the U. S. Census Bureau calculating 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, and lifestyle adding years to how long they stay around and stay healthy, the need for long-term care isn't going away.

And thus neither is the appeal of retirement living to investors. So private equity funds and REIT investments are continuing to pour into the business, causing senior living properties to continue to change hands, fueling both acquisitions and new developments.

"There's inevitably a bidding war and acquisition costs have continued to go higher and those realities have made the development of new buildings a higher priority than acquisitions for us," Madsen said, noting that 15 facilities are in construction around the country.

In fact, Madsen's relationship with Baty's Columbia Pacific Wealth Management is bringing another Seattle project to get underway, likely next spring. It's a 40-story multi-family and retail tower near the convention center, except One Eighty is the partner in this one with and Seawest Development as a 50 percent partner with Madsen's investment in the project. 

There's a Horatio Alger quality to Madsen's rise in the organization from a 25-year-old Salt Lake City media sales rep with roots in Southern Idaho and having attended Dixie State University in St. George, UT. Hired to manage a Leisure Care facility in Salt Lake City, he moved through executive positions to operations director, then CEO a decade after his hiring, then buying the company in 2003.  

How his purchase of Leisure Care played out was that Madsen became the owner of the business and the Lytles retained ownership of the brick and mortar as his landlords.  

"The Lytles were my original bosses and we grew together over all of those years and It became good succession planning for them and a good opportunity for me," the 55-year-old Madsen said.

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My first UPI boss and mentor honored by WSU's Murrow College

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When I have occasion to mention to friends or associates that my first boss, and journalistic mentor, was a woman, there's often a doubletake because of their quick awareness that I'm referring back to the early '60s, a long-ago time when many assume that women were unlikely to be the boss.

Roberta Bobbie UlrichRoberta (Bobbie) UlrichRoberta (Bobbie) Ulrich was the manager of the Spokane bureau for United Press International when I went to work for her in 1961 while still a student at Gonzaga University. Although she was only 32 at the time, she had already acquired a level of respect from the then-exclusively male-reporter "club" against whom she competed on behalf of a wire service whose mantra was getting it first but get it right. She made a point of doing both.

But she fulfilled the mentor role of building journalistic skills in a nurturing way that it only occurred to me much later was significantly successful in part because she was a mom, raising two sons while missing few beats guiding UPI's news coverage in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. I long ago decided that the skills of mentoring are simply different when they are employed by a mom.

Bobbie and I had a chance to spend parts of two days together this week as we reconnected at her alma mater, Washington State University, where she was being honored by the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications with a Hall of Achievement Award for her the journalistic contributions.

Her award came as part of the 10th Anniversary of the Hall of Achievement Ceremony, part of the Murrow Symposium where a key feature is the annual lifetime achievement award to nationally prominent communications figures. That award went this year to Robert Siegel, the NPR reporter who retired in January from his 31-year role as host of the public radio network's highly regarded All Things Considered.

I've told friends and acquaintances that Bobbie was largely responsible for the key steps on my career path, at least the UPI half. After her four years of training and mentoring in Spokane, I graduated from Gonzaga and was sent by UPI to Olympia where I soon became state political editor, then to the Pacific Northwest and Southern California as UPI executive overseeing business in those regions.

Eventually, I was named the wire service's San Francisco-based executive responsible for business activities in the Pacific Coast region. I cherished the congratulatory notes I got from her, via inter-office teletype read by all, with each promotion.

Murrow, of course, was the legendary television journalist who graduated from what was then Washington State College and went on to become the most recognized TV reporter of his era. The symposium named for him dates back to 1973 when WSU began an association with Murrow that led to the most prestigious annual communications-industry event in the Northwest, one that involves the annual honoring of a national media figure and selection of prominent communications grads of the university.

Honored with Hall of Achievement recognition with Bobbie were longtime KOMO-TV, Seattle, reporter and anchor Bill Brubaker and Lorie Dankers, who began her career in the other Washington to be a field producer at Newslink, then moved to the U.S. Senate staff before becoming a public affairs manager for a nine-state region for TSA Brubaker, incidentally, in his remarks as he received the award, credited Bobbie as one of the three people who helped shape his career.

The industry lost two of the Murrow College's Hall of Achievement alums this year with the deaths of iconic television sports reporter Keith Jackson and Jay Rockey, whose career in public relations in Seattle brought him regard throughout his industry in this region and beyond, as well as among top executives who sought his counsel.

I got to tell stories about Bobbie to those attending the two-day symposium and the various receptions because I believed those on hand to honor her ought to have a real sense of the person they were honoring.

It was shared from the podium that Bobbie covered college football games at a time sports writers were reluctant to have a woman in the press box.

But she shared with me that, as she put it, "much of the effort being made at that time to get women into press boxes was to make a point. But I never needed to make a point, it was just part of the work I was doing. It was just my job."

And I told several times, too much collective laughter, a press box story that no one but Bobbie knew before this week, a story she told me soon after the incident occurred more than 50 years ago.

It relates to the Cougars' home opener for the 1962 football season when, having three weeks earlier ordered a telephone installed in the press box, she arrived an hour before kickoff the find no phone had been installed thus her ongoing communication with the UPI staff members during the game would not be possible.

So she picked up another reporter's phone and dialed the home number of the president of General Telephone, the provider of phone service to much of the area. The president answered and heard Bobbie say: "Hi, Al, this is Bobbie Ulrich," to which he replied, "well hello Bobbie, How are you."

"Not too happy right now. I just got to the Cougar press box and I don't find the phone I ordered in three weeks ago. It's only an hour 'til game time but I know you will have the phone here by then."

She hung up, and the phone installer showed up and completed the installation with minutes to spare before kickoff.

Bobbie never sought nor showed deference to either the male reporters she dealt with and competed against, or the business leaders she came in contact with, though most of the men in both groups came to evidence a healthy respect for Bobbie because of the manner in which she competed as a journalist.

Bobbie's sense of humor was evident when she was asked if she remembered any problems she had had as a female journalist and the occasion she remembered to share was when, as a young reporter she went to the morgue with other reporters as the coroner explained details of a crime victim. The coroner, as he prepared to remove the sheet from the male victim's body, said: "Do you wish to leave, Bobbie?" To which she recalls responding, "is this meeting public? If so I'll stay."

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Israel's 70th birthday Carries Reminder of Publisher Who Shipped Arms

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As Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, it would be appropriate if some note were made of the role played by Hank Greenspun, the Jewish Las Vegas newspaper publisher who risked going to prison to secretly ship arms to the Hagana during Israel's war for independence.

Greenspun executed a daring gun-smuggling operation in 1947 that delivered surplus machine guns and airplane parts to Israel during its struggle, gaining praise from founding Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion for "extraordinary service" and later from Prime Minister Shimon Perez, who called Greenspun "a hero of our country."

Hank GreenspunHank GreenspunThe gun-smuggling incident was classic Greenspun, related during a later interview when he talked about convincing a reluctant Mexican shipowner to get the vessel, which had been filled with the weapons, on its way by holding a gun under his nose and saying "I'll count to five." He was convicted in 1950 and fined $10,000, the decision of a federal judge who decided on a fine instead of imprisonment.

It was in 1950 that he bought a struggling union newspaper launched by striking employees of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and renamed it the Las Vegas Sun where, as editor and publisher for almost 40 years, he was just as likely to make news as to cover it. From battling the mafia with front-page stories to shouting down Sen. Joseph McCarthy to his friendship with Howard Hughes, he was often (as he said of himself) "crossing the line between newsman and newsmaker."

I write now of Greenspun, a one-time client from my time as an executive with UPI, because in anticipation of Israel's anniversary, I recently reviewed the movie of his life, Where I Stand: The Hank Greenspun Story.

Although Hank's story is laid out in a compelling 90-minute documentary narrated by Anthony Hopkins and produced, written and directed by Scott Goldstein, a two-time Emmy award-winning producer, who told me in a phone conversation this week: "This is the best thing I ever did in my life," it hasn't found a film distributor.

When I asked Hank's son, Brian, a few days ago if there was any effort still going on to achieve broad visibility for the documentary, he said: "None that I know of though I believe Hank's story would make sense on Amazon or    Netflix."

When I mentioned at the beginning of this Harp about some appropriate note being made of Greenspun's contributions to Israel's independence quest, it occurred to me that some able investor might wish to step forward to make sure Greenspun's story is finally widely told.

The name of the movie came from the name of Greenspun's column that ran on the front page of the Sun almost every day from his launch of the newspaper in May of 1950 until his death in July of 1989.

The movie, including many clips of interviews with Greenspun before his death, was paid for by Greenspun's children, including Brian, now editor and publisher of the Las Vegas Sun, with the intent to get it into general distribution.

Goldstein came by the opportunity to do the documentary almost by accident as the Greenspun family was directed to him by a mutual contact.

Goldstein admits to having been "apprehensive" at first because "I'd never heard of him and I didn't want to just get paid to make the world's most expensive home movie (the budget was just under $1 million)."

But Goldstein says he was "shocked that I got no notes or directions nor any kind of interference" from Greenspun's children or his wife, Barbara, who took over as publisher of the Sun after Hank's death and died in 2010, a year or so after the documentary was finished. "They truly just wanted my best work."

For those who see the movie, as I was fortunate to do in Seattle when it was featured at the Jewish Film Festival and promoted with the help of the Washington News Council, it's difficult not to catch the same fire Goldstein evidences for someone like Greenspun at a time when heroes are in short supply.

Greenspun, a New York-educated lawyer who was a decorated World War II combat officer, got his first taste of Las Vegas as a publicist for mobster Bugsy Siegel's Flamingo Hotel and went on to be a pioneer real estate investor and developer with a vision of what Vegas could be, then a crusading newspaper publisher.

A unique aspect of the documentary is the many look-back stories told by Greenspun himself in later-in-life interviews, some obviously in anticipation of a future documentary.

Brian GreenspunBrian GreenspunThe weapons-smuggling event was one of many related in the documentary. Another was when a hit man hired by Vegas mobsters irate over Greenspun's harassment of them in his newspaper showed up at his home one evening and advised Greenspun, after Brian was told to go upstairs, that he was there to kill him.

Brian, who only went halfway upstairs and listened in, related on camera that his father talked the hitman out of shooting him in front of his family but rather meeting him the next morning to do it, then "taking care of it" before the meeting could occur.

Hank described Joe McCarthy, at a time when many still feared the senator's wrath, as "a red. White and blue-clad smokescreen to trample the rights of our citizens," as he shouted McCarthy down when he appeared for a rally in Las Vegas.

There is some indication that that encounter opened the door to Edward R. Murrow's documentary that brought McCarthy down, with Murrow supposedly saying to his crew, "if some newspaper guy in Nevada can put him down, we need to do this."

Reflecting on his father's life in an email to me, Brian said: "Hank Greenspun represented a generation of Americans who knew right from wrong in an instant and spent a lifetime acting on that belief. While he was extraordinary at so many levels, in the end, he was just an individual trying to do his best to make this world a little better place than he found it . Today's world needs a whole lot of Hank Greenspuns."

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Alaska Air CEO's travels bring message that attention is important to build loyalty

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If there was a need for evidence that Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Brad Tilden and his executive team understand that attention is a key to affection, in the form of loyalty, visits Wednesday to one of the airline's major West Coast markets following a Monday visit to one of its smallest should provide it. 

The Wednesday visit will be with a Tilden-hosted gathering of business and civic leaders in San Diego, which has become a major Alaska Airlines market where its service has grown dramatically in volume and importance since Alaska completed its acquisition of Virgin America Airlines in early 2018.

The San Diego event will follow by two days the visit by Tilden and his executives to Pullman and the Washington State University campus, where Alaska recognized important ties of a different, but no less important, kind.

The visits exemplify that affection, or regard, from its customers and the communities it serves has long been a point of pride for Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and a principal reason for the company's financial success and its ability to successfully push back against the competitive pressures from Delta Airlines over the past few years.

Tilden's San Diego remarks will amount to an update on Alaska's growing service to that city in the form of new non-stops added since the January completion of Alaska's acquisition of Virgin America, including the addition of 19 non-stop flights from San Diego this year.

Tilden and his execs who will be on hand for the event at The Prado in San Diego's historic Balboa Park want it to serve as an example of how they are working to deepen the Airline's relationship with the San Diego community.

The visit by Tilden and his team to the WSU campus Monday was for a series of events, including a prize-filled paper airplane toss, to recognize the airline's relationship with the university, which includes research there on sustainable fuels and Alaska's Imagine Tomorrow Competition.

Alaska Airlines Imagine Tomorrow is an interesting story in its own right as it challenges 9th through 12th graders to seek new ways to support the transition to sustainability. Students research complex topics related to sustainability, then innovate technologies, designs, or plans to mobilize behavior.

As Alaska's website for Imagine Tomorrow notes, students "forge connections in their communities and create positive change. In this competition, as in life, solutions are limited only by imagination."

And WSU is an important partner with Alaska through the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance with which Alaska and WSU are advancing the production and use of aviation biofuels.

Back to the San Diego visit, Tilden and his team will be providing an update on San Diego service, focused on the non-stop service additions of the past year, and discuss more broadly Alaska's West Coast growth, the strength of its presence in Southern California and its support of the community.

Alaska's San Diego passenger load has been growing an average of 13 percent per year over the past five years, including 22 percent in the past year. The airline recently announced new Spokane service and plans to add a San Diego from Paine Field when service commences next year from there. And the airline just announced the addition of service to El Paso, TX.

But underlying those statistics will be Tilden's message of the important, longstanding and growing role Alaska's business, employees and loyalty in Southern California play and how the Airline's strength in California supports strength for local business in the Pacific Northwest.

I've been intrigued to watch, in recent years as San Diego has become an important personal tie for both business and friendships, how a number of businesses in either Seattle or San Diego have reached out to open offices in the other market.

Thus Perkins-Coie, Seattle's largest law firm, opened a San Diego North County office a few years ago, as did Seattle commercial real estate firm Kidder Mathews, while San Diego is a key part of Seattle-based HomeStreet Bank's Southern California commercial banking business. Seattle

Barter company BizX expanded into San Diego in 2017, and Bastyr University in Kenmore on Seattle's Eastside became the first Naturopathic College in California in 2012 when it opened a branch campus in San Diego.

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One of Jim Ellis' little-known contributions was helping enure a post-Pilots MLB franchise

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As state and community leaders reflect on the accomplishment and legacy of James (Jim) Ellis, who died Monday at the age of 98, one vital role he played that was little noted or known was the one helping assure that Seattle would have a major league baseball team to replace the departing Pilots.
 
Anyone who follows baseball, business or community affairs know that Jim's younger brother, John, helped Sen. Slade Gorton put together the local-ownership team that saved the Mariners in 1992 from being sold and moved.
 

Then he served as Mariner CEO through the '90s, the Mariners most success string of years.
 
Jim EllisJim EllisBut few except for maybe a handful of community and elected leaders knew the story Jim Ellis shared with me how the failure of his and Seattle business icon Eddie Carlson's community-ownership initiative to save the ill-fated Seattle Pilots paved the way for the Mariners.
 
I met with Ellis back in 2011 as the Pilots' saga was getting some renewed visibility as Jim Bouten, who parlayed his stint as a Pilot's pitcher into Ball Four, his famous inside look at the Pilots and baseball, gathered some of the players featured in the book for an anniversary.
 
Ellis recalled, in our interview, the groundswell of support that Carlson, then perhaps the most influential business figure in Seattle, mounted in the form of a community fund-raising effort to buy the franchise from its bankrupt owners and keep it in Seattle. Many knew that the idea of a Green Bay Packers-like ownership in baseball was going to be a hard sell to a group of wealthy baseball owners.
 
Ellis remembered that Carlson, who had risen from bellhop to president of the former Western International Hotels and eventually CEO of United Airlines after it bought the Seattle-based hotel chain, led the community effort. The plan was for Carlson to be chair of a publicly owned community franchise and he asked Ellis, then in his mid-40s but already a decade on as the leader of most major civic projects, to join the effort and be the team's legal counsel.
 
I asked Ellis to tell the story, some parts long were forgotten, some parts never told, about that feverish effort in the winter of 1969-70 to save Seattle's baseball team and how the story unfolded after that.  
 
Here is his account:
"We went after contributions of from $5,000 to $200,000 and raised the money the American League said it would need, and it was real money in those days. The effort drew national attention as the media made this a struggle of the little guy against the big guys. It would have been the only community-ownership in sports other than the Packers.
 
"We went back to Chicago triumphantly for the meeting and the formal vote of the American League owners and I remember (baseball commissioner) Bowie Kuhn telling us the night before that meeting that we were in. We knew we had a solid majority of support from the owners, but the league rules required that no more than three of the 12 teams in the league could vote against the plan.
 
"We were called upstairs at the hotel the previous evening for a private meeting with some of the American League owners and we thought it was to be a welcome-to-the-club meeting for us and we'd be welcomed with open arms, though there were a few questions asked that implied some reluctance about us.
 
"We were thunderstruck at the next day's public meeting, with the room at least half media, when four votes were cast against us. It was over. We had lost.
 
"We went home and Eddie called everyone who had committed and told them they no longer were committed. Bowie Kuhn called the next day and asked if we would make one more try-I think he really wanted us to succeed - but it was over."
 
Ellis recalled how he telephoned Gorton, then Washington's attorney general and later U.S. Senator to tell him they'd failed in the effort. But Gorton apparently said, "hold on, baseball told the community that if they voted to build the Kingdome, the city would have a team as its major tenant." So Gorton decided to go the legal route and brought suit against the owners.
 
But the untold story was that, for whatever reason, the American League owners who hosted Ellis and Carlson for the dinner meeting and discussion about the ownership plan secretly recorded the conversation.
 
And as with then-President Nixon's secret White House recordings, the outcome was disastrous for the recorders. Ellis recalled that once the door on the meeting is heard on the tape to close, followed by what Ellis recalls as a "minute or so of silence," one of the owners is heard to say "I guess we gave them enough rope to hang themselves."
 
So the next morning the owners voted down the Seattle plan and Gorton's suit soon followed.
 
Ellis recalls that "it became clear the jury, after hearing the tape, was going to come down on the side of Seattle, which was seeking $18 million from baseball, when the jury foreman came out to ask the judge if the jury was limited to only what Seattle was asking."
 
"So as the jury came back with its verdict, baseball's attorneys came over to our table and said, 'You don't want the money, you want a team. We'll guarantee you'll have a team.' We agreed to keep the verdict sealed unless baseball failed to bring a team to the Kingdome."
 
And so it came to pass that the franchise the city got in 1977 became the Seattle Mariners. The franchise went through a local ownership group and two out-of-area owners, all testing whether Seattle could really support major-league baseball. Then the local group put together by John Ellis and Gorton bought the team and proved baseball could work in Seattle.
 
So the facts of Mariner history are that an Ellis brother was involved significantly at both ends of the Mariners story.
 
And thus the contributions of the Ellis brothers to an array of community contributions came to include the Mariners, Jim's contribution in the realm of public-service projects that he guided and John's as CEO of first Puget Sound Energy and then the Mariners,
 
It seems somehow that an award should be created in the name of The Ellis Brothers to honor future contributors to our region, so they won't be forgotten.
 
I asked Ellis what would have happened had the effort to save the Pilots as a community-owned team been successful. He replied, "Eddie and I both felt, after it was all over, that it would have been more of a beast than we had anticipated as baseball's financial picture changed so significantly over the coming few years."

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Joan Wallace bringing closure to long commitment to children of Granger

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The phrase "Michelangelo Moment," meaning the instant of inspiration when someone is touched to make a difference, first came to mind for me relating to Bellevue business leader and philanthropist Joan Wallace's impact on the lives of the families in the Yakima Valley town of Granger.
 
It was seven years ago that I first learned of and wrote about the then decade-old commitment by Wallace, now retired from her role as president of Wallace Properties to a cause distant from her Bellevue home where she has been involved in community causes too numerous to count. 
 
Joan WallaceJoan WallaceThat "moment" was 16 years when the story of Joan Wallace's role with the mostly Hispanic children of Granger and their families began at a 2003 Thanksgiving dinner with her sister in law.
 
Wallace listened over dinner while Janet Wheaton, then principal of Granger Middle School, expressed concern that the children, who had little food at home, would be going hungry without their two in-school meals a day over the Christmas holidays because the school would be out.
 
When Wallace returned home, an email donation request to pay for Christmas baskets of food went out to a few dozen of her closest friends and associates and soon thereafter, a non-profit named "Children of Granger" was formed.
 
Thus began an ongoing commitment by two women, one an educator and one a prominent Bellevue business leader. Their continuing involvement changed the future for the families in the city of 3,500 where the population is 84 percent Latino or Hispanic and 35 percent of the families live below the poverty level.
 
After writing the first Granger column, an annual update of the dramatic things that continued to unfold in Granger because of Wallace and Wheaton became my regular Thanksgiving offering to readers of The Harp.
 
Everything they did was aimed at helping kid break the poverty barrier, from
giving each child in all grade levels an annual $200 "slush fund" for things like shoes and coats to giving mothers of pre-schoolers learning toys that brought grants once they proved the value of their "Ready for Kindergarten" program.
 
 "While doing our best to take care of the immediate needs, we also believe it is equally important to cultivate self-sufficiency and to enable these children to finish school," Wallace said.
 
But the most dramatic story of the impact that the two women had was with the successful campaign at the middle school five years ago to build a program to improve attendance because of its key to educational advancement. They came up with a slogan that became a mantra, "Every Child, Every desk, Every Day."
 
Thus in 2014, I was able to share that the little non-profit had put together a relationship with nearby Heritage University and its largely Hispanic student body and that the relationship had led to the first-ever grant to Families of Granger.

The $15,000 grant from the Yakima Valley Community Foundation, due largely to the involvement of Heritage student and mother of four Alma Sanchez, was used to implement an attendance-incentive program that Sanchez had created.
Those two things basically made 2014 the little non-profit's most important year. And there was a degree of magic in the results of Alma's idea. a quarterly incentive program aimed at perfect attendance.

Driven by the attendance-campaign slogan and the commitment of children, parents, and teachers, the school set the mark for best attendance record in the state, with an absentee rate of 4 percent, compared to a statewide average of 16 percent absenteeism, outdoing schools even in places like Mercer Island and Bellevue.  

I knew that accomplishment would go largely unnoticed by media and business leaders in Western Washington. So I met with Kemper Freeman, Pam Pearson of Q13 and Mike Patterson, since deceased, whose law firm represented a number of school districts and together we created a special award called Innovations in Education.
 
All involved, most especially Wallace, Wheaton, and Alma, were honored at a banquet at the Rainier Club and presented with plaques to help them remember the accomplishment that helped change a community.
 
The Yakima Foundation got involved with a grant for the attendance campaign and has supported the annual effort since.
 
Last week an email arrived from Wallace advising that the time for an exit to her active involvement in Granger had arrived. "The time has come and the path is not only clear but exciting and gratifying," she said, adding in the mail to her Friends of Granger, "together we have made a difference." She included a chart that showed "we poured $425,000 into the community."
 
"With my sister in law now retired and no longer living in Granger, Friends of Granger will go back to the community to be run by a committee of teachers and community leaders," Wallace wrote.
 
"Over the years, more and more of the teachers have been donating a small monthly portion of their salaries to Friends of Granger. Moreover, with the shift in leadership, we predict that even more will participate. It takes less than $20,000 a year to run the food and emergency fund program. Janet and I have committed to donating annual funds to make up any deficiency for the programs. We have a proven structure in place and passionate and capable people committed to continuing the mission of Friends of Granger. Who knows where it will grow from here?"
 
But in another email to me, it became clear where Wallace intends to grow from here, causing me to realize she had encountered another Michelangelo Moment, touched with the inspiration to bring her talents to an organization called Acres of Diamonds.  
 
She explained that she had recently joined the board and had agreed to chair the capital campaign for the organization that is a homeless shelter for women with young children, "a faith-based organization with a success rate of over 80 percent."
 
Acres of Diamonds is located in Duvall but serves the greater Eastside teaching the women "the skills they need to develop their existing strength," Wallace wrote.
 
"The women are taught household management, parenting skills, budgeting, anger management, and they are provided childcare and expenses to go to school," Wallace said. "But they must commit to job-skill training,  abstinence from substance abuse, getting a job, and contributing to their cost of care when they are capable."

She added that "the program lasts two to three years and has been extraordinarily successful."
 
I will be expecting an email ask soon, to which I'll respond as always.

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Two tech execs make pink socks the road to empathy, caring and love

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It seemed likely, after the August 3, 2019, mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart claimed the lives of 22 people and left 24 wounded, that the Texas border city would be remembered by history and its largely Latino citizenry as the site of the deadliest attack on Latinos in modern American History.  
 
Then came the moving visit by members of the "Pink Socks Tribe" to the bilingual Dr. Sue A. Shook elementary school to show that love and caring are the healing antidotes to hate.
 
Andrew RichardsAndrew RichardsBy the time the November 18 and 19  visit of four leaders of the tribe to the school had ended, 1,337 pairs of pink socks, paid for by donations from members of the tribe around the world, had been passed out to students, teachers, and staff during two moving student gatherings, a morning one for the older kids and an afternoon one of younger grades.
 
But before sharing further details of the story of this special moment for children, teachers and all the staff at Shook Elementary, who had zero degrees of separation from the pain and the loss caused by the shooting, it's important to tell the story of Pinksocks Life Inc.  
 
It's a nonprofit that describes its role as "promoting authentic human connection around the world. In addition to empowering people from all walks of life to connect with anyone, anywhere, by creating a global tribe of pink socks-wearing people who are focused on empathy, caring, and love."
 
If that sounds like an intriguing mission, consider the two tech executives who launched the pink socks movement in 2015 at the same time as, but unrelated to, their seeking investors for their Portland tech company.
 
Nick Adkins and Andrew Richards, both then Portland residents, met on LinkedIn and co-founded ReelDx, a video-focused medical-education company for which they wound up spending a lot of time in Silicon Valley seeking customers and raising money. It was during that time that they launched pink socks.
 
They soon moved on to other roles as the company shifted direction, with Adkins moving to Pittsburgh and Richards to Spokane, but they continued their pink socks commitment.
 
I first met Richards three years ago when I did a column about his being hired as College Technology Incubation Officer at the then-new WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, as I described it in the column as "an unusual incubator to nurture new healthcare technology."
 
Then as Richards and I were at breakfast in Spokane a month ago, I learned the story of the pink socks first hand.
 
"When I was thinking about the fact the world has come to be a place where everyone, of all ages, is walking along looking at their hands, it occurred to me that it was important to somehow get people to look each other in the eye and acknowledge the connection," Richards explained.
 
So he decided to put on the pink socks and, as walking, he says "someone asked, what's with the pink socks?"
 
To which Richards says he replied: "They are meant to have someone ask that question while they are looking me in the eye and connecting." Then he handed the person a pair of the pink socks, whose feature is an array of black mustaches interspersed on the pink with black puzzle pieces.
 
Adkins recalls that he And Richards went to a healthcare conference in Chicago in 2015 where "There more than 40,000 attendees and, having packed our bags full of what turned out
to be the crowd favorites every time I wore them - the pink socks with the mustaches.  
 
"Every time someone came up to us and commented on our socks and asked us about them, we reached into our bags and gave them a pair of pink socks," Adkins said, adding, "when I gift the socks, I always look the other person in the eyes and say 'Every time you wear your pink socks you're going to make people smile! People will come up to you and ask you about your pink socks. That's your opportunity to connect with another person, that had you not been wearing your pink socks that day, the two of you would have missed each other in the universe.'"
 
We continued to attend conferences and hand out pink socks," said Adkins. "Some of the most important and influential people in healthcare have them.....even an astronaut who piloted the space shuttle has a pair!"
 
Richards estimates there are now about 100,000 members of the Pinksocks Tribe in the world in a movement that Richards notes has been "de-commoditized from its beginning in 2015 - all pink socks are gifts. Every connection made between the gift giver and recipient is based on an authentic connection, not a transaction."
 
In November of 2018, Ms. Blancas, the first-grade teacher at Shook Elementary, was teaching empathy to her students. She posted a video of her first-graders leaving the classroom and choosing whether to have a fist bump, a high five, or a hug to share with one of their classmates as they filed out of the room for the day. The majority of the kids chose the hug.
 
The video went viral and a member of the pink socks team noticed and after some contact, as Richards remembers, "we sent Ms. Blanca 32 pairs for her class and she gifted them."
 
Then came the Walmart shootings. Richards said, "I felt we, the pink socks tribe from around the world, had to send the school a message of love and support from all of us so we reached to find how many socks it would take to gift everyone in the school with the socks."
 
Soon came the arrival of four of the tribe board members to present pink socks to all. 'We walked in the door and started crying, overwhelmed by the school support," Adkins said. "It blew our minds."
 
He recalled that the first assembly had 600 older-grade students the assembly sang happy birthday to Ms. Blancas (Yes, it was her birthday). "Then the kids did the world's largest cinnamon roll hug ever, meaning everyone is hugging everyone at the same time," Richards explained.
 
The exponential ripple effect of goodness that these beautiful children in El Paso are creating across the universe through the timelines of their and our lives...that's the ROI of #pinksocks," Richards explained.

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Ruckelshaus recalled for environmental role and collaborative leadership

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William D. (Bill) Ruckelshaus is being remembered, since his death last week at the age of 87, largely for his unique role in environmental stewardship as head of the Environmental Protection Agency for two presidents. For two other presidents that stewardship included being appointed to help ensure the future of the salmon and the health of the oceans.

Lesser known was his view about the environment in which political and policy decision making occurs. In that environment, he always sought a collaborative approach to resolving disagreements. In fact, he made no secret of his disregard for what he once characterized for me in a 2011 interview as "the era of inflamed partisanship and ideology."

William RuckelshausWilliam RuckelshausAnd lesser-known still, his willingness, as CEO of Houston-based Browning Ferris Industries, a major waste-removal firm, to take on the mafia, as he did in expanding his company into New York City. The collaboration he brought to that situation was with authorities whom he helped to clean up the business environment of an industry.

Ruckelshaus, from a prominent Republican family in Indiana where he became a powerful state elected official, was named by President Richard Nixon in 1970 at the age of 38 to be the EPA's first administrator, then was called back by President Ronald Reagan to be the agency's fifth director.
 
In leading the EPA after its creation, he laid the foundation for the agency by hiring its leaders, defining its mission, deciding on priorities, and selecting an organizational structure. He also oversaw the implementation of the Clean Air Act of 1970.

His name became synonymous with environmental protection, which doesn't mean he always defended the tactics or decisions of those engaged in protecting the environment.
 
In the 2011 interview for a Harp column that I went back to review last weekend after his death, he acknowledged that "it's important to be careful about what power you give government and government has to be careful about how it exercises that power.
 
"It's almost a given that abuses will occur," he added. But then he posed the question: "What's preferable, the possibility of abuses that must be reined in, or no rules? In order to provide a framework in which freedom can function, you have to have rules."
 
As we talked for that column, there was a detectable sense of both disappointment and frustration in Ruckelshaus' voice as he discussed what he termed the "most violent anti-environment rhetoric in recent memory coming from Congress" in attacks on the EPA.
 
As evidence of frustration, Ruckelshaus said, referring to that 2011 political scene, "recent attacks are particularly mindless because they give no credence to the original bipartisan support for the creation of EPA," which came into being by executive order of Republican President Richard Nixon.
 
"It was at a time of public outcry that visible air pollution and flammable rivers were not acceptable," Ruckelshaus recalled. "And as EPA was being established, the Congress passed the Clean Air Act in a burst of non-partisan agreement: 73-0 in the Senate and 374-1 in the House." That obviously came about through political collaboration, discussions toward which Ruckelshaus obviously had a part.
 
It's difficult in this era to even imagine there was a time when such agreement between political parties and both houses of Congress could occur on any issue.
 
The fact that Congress could, with virtual unanimity, approve what obviously was legislation that assumedly made some members politically uncomfortable would be viewed as "historical fiction," or maybe "Fake History" by some political ideologues today. But it was merely a time when Democracy could function.
 
With respect to his taking on the mafia during his tenure at Browning-Ferris from 1987 to 1995, Ruckelshaus helped investigators infiltrate a Mafia-dominated carting conspiracy, leading prosecutors to obtain indictments.

Browning-Ferris not only won that skirmish, but it was also well on its way to winning a war. In just three years, the waste-management giant from Houston accomplished what no other company thought possible: It broke organized crime's chokehold on New York City's $1.5 billion commercial trash industry.
Those who have grown tired of the dysfunctional nature of verbal rifle shots, or maybe more accurately shotgun blasts, that have replaced Congressional debate might wish there was something at the national level like the William D. Ruckelshaus Center in Seattle.
 
I'm sure others share with me the hope that part of his legacy will be the work of the Ruckelshaus Center, a joint effort, created to foster collaborative public policy in the state of Washington and Pacific Northwest. It is hosted and administered at WSU by WSU Extension and hosted at UW by the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance

The mission of the center is to act as a neutral resource for collaborative problem-solving in the Northwest, providing expertise to improve "the quality and availability of voluntary collaborative approaches for policy development and multi-party dispute resolution."
 
For anyone inclined to dismiss the wording of the mission as "policy-wonk," it should be noted that the center has successfully brought together parties to build consensus on a range of issues, perhaps most dramatically the Agriculture and Critical Areas Project.
 
The landmark three-plus-year effort aimed at preserving the viability of agricultural lands dealt with the issue of how to control farmland runoff without destroying the prosperity of farmers, an agreement that has unfortunately received little visibility.
 
"The Ruckelshaus Center has 15 years of experience successfully refining and applying his extraordinary vision for how our state and region can resolve complex public policy challenges through collective wisdom, rather than a competition of narrow perspectives," said Advisory Board Chair Bob Drewel.

Drewel, retired head of the Puget Sound Regional Council and former chancellor of WSU Everett who is now Senior Advisor to WSU President Kirk Schulz, predicted: "The Center will continue to build on that legacy, in new issue areas and challenges, working toward a future where Bill's approach is standard practice."

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Proof of value from Opportunity Zones won't come quickly

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Any legislation created by Congress with the promise of helping the rich get richer by providing for them to help the poor is bound to be challenged from its birth, faced with a mix of believers, skeptics, opportunists, and cynics.  
 
So it is with the Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZ) provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that will permit those owing capital gains tax to delay, reduce or even totally avoid those taxes by investing in special funds designed to start businesses and provide other steps to help economically distressed communities.
 
Ralph IbarraRalph IbarraAnd now the OZ legislation, signed into law by President Trump three days before Christmas in 2017, a sort of holiday gift to taxpayers and, significantly, a bipartisan one, is drawing a lot of scrutiny from critics who contend it is turning out to be merely a tax break for billionaires and focused far more on real estate projects than on job creation.

Supporters counter that much of the criticism has a political ring to it a year before the presidential election in which Trump could point to it as an example, albeit a rare one, of Congressional bipartisan progress.
 
Meanwhile, officials in most states, including Washington, have been slow to roll out examples and promote projects the act has made possible with its capital gains tax breaks. Nor has there been much creativity on the part of state leaders to convince some of those wealthy investors to look at potentially winning projects, or in maybe putting state funds into projects that, coupled with the tax breaks, could become attractive for major investors.
 
The "politics" accusations are coming because Congressional opponents are starting to discuss what they see as the need for changes, including a possible effort to terminate zones that are not sufficiently low income. That was one of the key criteria for census tracts to gain OZ eligibility in the original list put together by the Treasury Department.
 
A recent high-visibility example of the criticism was a New York Times article that rained vilification down on Michael Milken, alleging that he tried to take advantage of the Opportunity Zones tax incentives to enhance the value of some of his Nevada property.
 
The Times article indicates that Milken, still widely recalled more as the billionaire king of junk bonds who went to jail than remembered for his decades of philanthropy since then, sought to press the Nevada governor and state officials to get the Treasury Secretary to classify the tract as an OZ.
 
There no real evidence that Milken did that, and there was no effort to paint any of his actions as illegal even if he had.  
 
The parcel was eventually included in the eligible census tracts, despite Treasury's concern that the residents were too well off to get the designation. Once included it was selected by the governor as one of the state's Opportunity zones.
 
Ironically, that Reno area OZ parcel in which Milken owns about 700 acres, contains many of the potential job-creating aspects of what proponents of the tax break indicated they hoped would come about, including a planned tech incubator where smaller companies could set up operations and seek investors.  

My longtime Latino friend Ralph Ibarra, a fan of the Opportunity Zones idea from the outset who has delved deep into the details of the tax-break legislation, says he felt it was a "golden opportunity" to provide a chance for investors to get involved to achieve good ends.
 
"if you want to get investors to act in their enlightened self-interest you incentivize them in ways they understand and that's by offering them the opportunity to get a return," said Ibarra, who has shared several ideas on how he might get involved in ways that would generate returns for his clients and causes from OZs.
 
When I mentioned the Times Article on Milken to Ibarra, who as president of DiverseAmerica Network helps corporations with diversity issues and small businesses with access to opportunities, he said he didn't see a problem.
 
"Using your influence in that way is no different than the Port of Tacoma going to the governor and saying 'it would be helpful if you designated the Tacoma Tide Flats as an Opportunity Zone so we can attract capital to some projects.'"
 
"In fact, I did it myself when I looked at every potential opportunity zone from Seattle to DuPont, intending to try to influence the process, then went to the Lieutenant Governor's office and suggested ones I thought should be selected. I said 'respectfully here are tracts that I believe are worthy of being selected because of the lack of equity capital for small and distressed firms in those areas.'"
 
Ibarra's point was he was seeking to use his influence with the lieutenant governor because of projects he had been involved with relating to the state's second-highest elected official.


Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, who wrote the 2017 Investing in Opportunity Act measure that was filed and then forgotten in committee, gathered support from moderates of both parties in a true example of working together to revive the bill as an addition to the major tax bill. Thus was born the Opportunity Zones.
 
Governors of the 50 states were brought into the implementation of the act by having the chance to designate census tracts where various business ventures would be eligible for the OZ benefits, through investment by Qualified Opportunity Funds.
 
Jessie J Knight JrJessie J Knight JrA key business figure I asked about the emerging criticism of wealth-enhancing projects just getting off the ground was Jessie J Knight Jr., a retired prominent San Diego business leader closely involved with oversight of the OZ legislation and one for whom philanthropy has become a retirement focus through his family foundation, Knight's Angels.
 
Knight, a retired Alaska Airlines board member who was chairman of San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas Co. both subsidiaries of Sempra Energy, where he was executive vice president, said: "judging this legislation on projects already in place is short-sighted and ignorant about economic development."
 
I reached out to Knight because he is one of the national business leaders selected to serve on a task force chaired by Vice President Michael Pence and Senator Scott that is overseeing the progress of the OP-zones program.
 
"This effort can only be judged in what new investment doors are opened to the private sector in the short run, and in the longer term, what businesses and communities have been improved in years five, seven and 10 (the years in which capital-gains taxes due are evaluated for reductions)," Knight said.

An effort at work in Washington may help provide the model for how Opportunity zones can help bring progress and job creation to economically deprived areas.
A working group, that includes Chuck Depew and the National Development Council for which he is a senior director and West Team Leader, is working with local communities and has come up with some promising projects, in Wenatchee and on the Colville Reservation in Central Washington.

The involvement of the state's Native American Tribes and Opportunity Zones designated near or adjacent to them has yet to fully emerge, but will be essential to future success, Depew says.

But he cautions, with a message that critics of OZ need to digest, that projects that will attract mission-driven investors who want to do good while gaining financial return take longer to put together than the low-hanging fruit that has attracted the wealthy investors looking only to get easy tax breaks.

"The challenge in the program is how can Opportunity-Zone communities, rural, urban and tribal, encourage mission-driven investors, including private, community and family foundations and social impact investors to be involved," Depew told me for an earlier column. "That takes time and resources."
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Serial entrepreneur Pete Chase carving out a key role in 5G cell technology

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Serial entrepreneur Peter (Pete) Chase is sympathetic to the pushback from communities upset about the impact of looming 5G cellular technology on their esthetics and infrastructure, but he's convinced the new company he's putting together will help ease much of that community concern.
 
Chase, whose Easy Street Solutions will be based in his hometown of Spokane, is referring to the suit filed by more than 100 municipalities around the country, including Seattle and Bellevue, against the Federal Communications Commission over its plan for the rollout of 5G networks across the country.

Pete ChasePete ChaseThe 5G stands for fifth-generation cellular wireless, which will be required in order for industry leaders AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint to develop and introduce new wireless communications platforms, including the Internet of Things (IoT). This is a transition from existing networks that will require millions of what are described as "small cell towers" placed mainly in urban areas where data usage is greatest.
 
The politics that is accompanying the emergence of the new networks is that the FCC has pre-empted the right to control how the networks of new towers come about and that has local officials up in arms because they are basically being pushed aside on details of things that could have a major impact on the communities.
 
As PC Magazine noted in an article in its August issue, "you should expect the big 5G applications to crop up around 2021 or 2022 and until then, things are going to be confusing as wireless carriers jockey for customers and mindshare."
 
Meanwhile, Chase will be seeking to attract investors as well as wireless carrier "mindshare" for a company that he says will produce towers that "will fit well into the look of the communities."
 
"What we are doing is designing a very aesthetically flexible pole, 20-to-40 feet in height and one-tenth the weight of current poles and one that allows a lot of different options," Chase explained. "These will fit well into the look of the city."
 
"The FCC and carriers need to work with cities to find solutions that make both happy," said Chase. "The big thing for the FCC is that we need to beat China to 5G and you can imagine that China is not going to spend a lot of time thinking of things like building permits," he added with a chuckle. "However, I did see that China is claiming 5G systems are up in several cities - they are definitely ahead of us at this time."
 
"You can't blame communities who feel they have the right to make their own decisions, only to watch that power taken away," Chase said.
 
"Something to note about the FCC mandate is that along with insisting that cities not slow down 5G projects, they also are capping the lease rate per site that the cities can charge the carriers, Chase added.
 
"It's an educational thing on both sides since the cities need to understand that if they want 5G in their cities, they have to work with the carriers.
 
And the carriers need to accept that they can't just start to put up ugly poles everywhere since these poles will be about 800 to 1,000 feet apart."
 
As he begins seeking investors for Easy Street Solutions, which, Chase says is a name that "addresses the issue of how do you deploy this technology and make it easy for all stakeholders," he is likely reminded of his first entrepreneurial go-round with a telecom startup, Purcell Systems.
 
That was in 2000. He was 40 and recalls with a smile that he was guided in that launch by "blind optimism" in the future of what became a $140 million revenue company as a maker of outdoor telecommunications cabinets.
 
The company was sold six years ago to NYSE-listed EnerSys, a manufacturer of batteries for various uses, for $115 million.
 
His success with Purcell earned Chase official entrepreneur status with selection as an Ernst & Young (E-Y) Entrepreneur of the Year and for several years thereafter he was a judge in the EoY competition.
 
His entrepreneur focus took Chase in an unusual direction after Purcell as he launched Columbia International Finance in Spokane to become a player in the Immigrant Investment Program called EB5 that was passed by Congress 30 years ago to stimulate the economy through investment by foreigners. The vehicle was to grant green cards to a specified number of foreigners in exchange for $500,000 invested by each foreigner in projects in this country that created at least 10 new jobs.
 
Chase said he intended to use the EB5 program, which initially and quickly turned into a real estate financing tool by developers, as what he called a "true economic development tool," focused on funding new businesses across the state rather than just real estate.
 
He applied for and was granted approval for Columbia International Finance to be a regional center, which the act decreed would serve as the vehicles to turn the investment dollars into job-creating projects.
 
He found little opportunity in Spokane but got involved in several projects in Seattle to which he directed foreign investments but laments that congressional action to raise the $500,000 investment fee to $900,000, effective Nov, 21, "is going to put the brakes on the program. It's a victim of the effort by Congress to slow applications down because they just don't want immigration."
 
So turning back to his 5G initiative, I asked Chase: "If blind optimism was the attitude you brought to Purcell, what's driving your 5-G effort?"
 
"Confident zeal," Chase replied quickly. "Nothing will stop the growth of data and the Internet of Things, but you have to have a reasonable solution to 5G deployment to pull it off. We do the extremely necessary dumb stuff to make the smart stuff work."
 
"But it's important to remember that 5G networks don't exist now, although there is certainly testing in some venues like sports arenas, so what's in play right now is a lot of marketing fluff," Chase said, adding that "real 5G is probably two years out for the average consumer."

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As he turns 94, Dan Evans' role in history will be discussed at Tower Club interview

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We call the Columbia Tower Club's breakfast interviews On the Shoulders of Giants in the hope that those who accept the invitation to be our guests fit the role of giant whose shared wisdom can permit us to stand on their shoulders, as it were, to perhaps learn from them in shaping our own futures.
 
And despite his likely reluctance to accept the "giant" characterization, former Governor and U.S. Senator Dan Evan comes about as close as any public figure in this state to earning the accolade "giant."
 
So we hope to put some of his thoughts and deeds on display and in the discussion next Friday morning, October 25, the date when he has agreed to be our guest interviewee.
 
DanielEvansDaniel J EvansIt was 55 years ago this November that Daniel J. Evans was elected governor, the state's youngest governor, defeating two-term incumbent governor, Albert D. Rosellini, who was seeking a third consecutive term in the 1964 election. Evans bucked a Democrat landslide nationally that year in winning.
 
It was an election season not unlike this one in terms of the fierce political battles that then, as now, even created divisions within parties, with the John Birch Society creating a right-wing focal point for Republicans.  
 
Despite being a Republican and a self-styled conservative, Evans became known for his administration's liberal policies on environmental protection as he founded the country's first state-level Department of Ecology, which became President Nixon's blueprint for the federal EPA.
 
He was a strong supporter of the state's higher education system, including founding Washington's system of community colleges.
 
And he fought unsuccessfully for a state income tax, basically telling voters that if they rejected his tax plan they maybe should reject him as well. But voters made up their own minds and kept Evans while rejecting his income tax.
 
He achieved national prominence in 1968 as he was chosen to give the keynote address at the Republican National Convention that nominated eventual president Richard Nixon. Evans was talked about for a time as Nixon's possible running mate but his refusal to endorse Nixon, instead of throwing his convention support to Nelson Rockefeller, ended vice president talk.
 
In reflecting on Evans in preparation for the interview next Friday, I went over some previous columns I did on him and was reminded that he was an elected official who was impossible to pigeonhole ideologically. As both governor and senator, he avoided ideological rigidity and found good ideas might sometimes spring from the Democrat side of the political aisle. And that dumb ideas could sometimes be offered by his fellow Republicans.  
 
Proving he was impossible to typecast politically, Evans was equally comfortable blasting "talk show hosts screeching about waste in government," proponents of term limits and a balanced-budget amendment, environmental extremists, and excessive regulations that stymie growth.
 
In a memorable speech he made in Seattle to an audience of business leaders in the mid-90s, Evans offered a couple of bits of political wisdom that bear sharing.
 
"By constantly trashing our political leaders, we also breed disrespect for our own system, of government," Evans said. "The result is a new political landscape dotted with constitutional amendments and initiatives designed to protect citizens from 'evil' politicians."
 
Of two ideas whose proponents have continued to seek traction, Evans told a business-leader audience: "The balanced budget amendment is a loony idea that is meaningless until we decide how to keep a national standard set of books so we can measure balance."
 
And of the idea of term limits, Evans offered: "As a voter, I am outraged by those sanctimonious term limiters who would steal from me the freedom of my vote."
 
But in addition to hitting "those talk show hosts who cater to the base emotion of people," he took to task "the politicians who blithely promise what they know they cannot deliver," and "those rigid environmentalists who will see you in court if they don't get all they seek."
 
Thus he has always been a leader in what I, and many, feel is an unfortunately disappearing breed, those who view ideas on their merits rather than insisting that any new idea must be vetted based on where it fits ideologically.
 
Evans celebrated his 94th birthday this week with friends, followers and admirers, and students of history, still awaiting completion of his autobiography.

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79-year-old runner gets unusual support to overcome injury and race

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The phrase "senior support group" takes on a whole different meaning when the senior is a 79-year-old seeking to remain athletically competitive and the support group is a trio of unusual healthcare providers and a nationally prominent track and field coach seeking to contribute to the process.  
 
Members of this particular senior support group came to the fore in the past three weeks to see if collectively they could salvage my hope, after a leg injury while working out, to get to this year's Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, UT, where I have competed in my age group in the 100-meter sprint half a dozen times in the past decade.
 
The support team is composed of Bryan Hoddle, one of the nation's most recognized and honored track and field coaches; Dr. Robert Greczanik, an acupuncturist, and practitioner with athletes both amateur and proof what he calls "energetic technologies;" high-intensity trainer Ann-Marie Anderson, and skilled Reiki practitioner Trini Evans. Interestingly, they are also teamed in that they are each other's friends and clients, as I am their client or, in Hoddle's case, friend.
 
Hoddle and Anderson have both been subjects of Harps (Flynn's Harp: Bryan Hoddle and Flynn's Harp: Ann-Marie Anderson) while columns on Greczanik and Evans are in planning, not because they are friends but because what they are doing to bring new definitions to healthcare merits attention.
 
The challenge they are now helping to address with me is that during a recent workout on a Bellevue track, as I wound up my workout with a series of full-speed 100's, near the 80-meter mark of the second 100 meters, it suddenly felt as if an alligator had bitten into the base of my right hamstring. I instantly knew I had torn it, or at least pulled it.
 
The details that follow will be interesting to some readers, amusing to others who think they know all about sports medicine.
 
I called Hoddle to ask if I could do any sort of exercise in the following three days before I could get in to see "Dr. Bob," given the injured hamstring and pain accompanying it.
"Don't do anything until you see Dr. Bob, and make sure to ask him if you locked your big toe," he added.
 
It was a weekend and I knew I wouldn't be able to see my acupuncture doc, "Dr. Bob," at his Energetic Sports Lab in Bellevue until Tuesday since Monday is the day for Seahawks to see him repair game day injuries.
 
Robert Greczanik, known to most as "Dr. Bob," has a doctorate in the practice of acupuncture as well in Oriental Medicine and for 20 years has been serving athletes (and others) to "achieve peak performance," avoid injuries and recover rapidly when injury does occur.  
 
Acupuncture is a technique in which practitioners stimulate specific points on the body by inserting thin needles through the skin. It is one of the practices long used in traditional Chinese medicine.  
 
Since he has worked with organizations and athletes from the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trailblazers and numerous other pro and college organizations and individuals, I was pleased and grateful that he has had time for an old runner. Being friends helped.
 
When I asked Bob about Hoddle's "frozen big toe" comment, he replied that I hadn't frozen it but he made the point that "most people are unaware of the fact that there are fibers in the big toe that help determine the health of the hamstring as well as other parts of the body. Yours is okay."
 
I remarked to Dr. Bob that I realized there was no way I was going to be able to run a competitive 100-meter race in three weeks but that I'd like to begin getting my hurting hamstring back to health.
 
"Hey, 'white lightning' (his nickname for me that he knows will bring laughter), don't worry about it" he replied. "You'll be running fine by then.'
 
So he placed the needles in my hamstring and areas in the other leg and after 25 minutes on the table, he removed them and the hamstring felt like new. But I realized I needed to avoid full-speed effort until the race day.
 
"So what can I do on the track now," I asked and Dr. Bob replied, "ask Coach Hoddle."
 
Coach Hoddle counseled me to do 40 percent-speed work out on the track, followed by 60 to 70 percent speed three days later. "I tell my guys returning from an injury to remember the 72-hour rule."
 
Hoddle is one of the nation's most recognized and honored track and field coaches whose attention to developing young athletes and counseling coaches came to include aiding disabled athletes and now a national focus on wounded veterans who have lost limbs and need to learn to run again.
 
And he's full of sayings, as in when I worried that I wished I could get one more workout in before heading for St. George, he said "Don't worry about it. The hay is in the barn." When I asked what that meant he replied: "You're set. Don't need any more preparation." Hd followed that with "People don't realize that less s frequently better."
 
When I returned to Dr. Bob the following week, he placed his needles in several places but none in the injured hamstring and when I questioned that, he replied "Hamstring is all well now. Go for it."
 
Meanwhile, sessions with my high-intensity trainer to keep muscle strength as close to normal as possible and Reike to enhance the healing, as well as deal with a sore back muscle, added key elements to the return to health.
 
Trini Evans, my Reiki Master/Teacher practitioner in the form of healthcare that is based on the idea that human hands can redirect "life force energy" to heal stress and assist in the body's natural healing processes, became a key part of the healthcare team seeking to restore my ability to compete.
 
In addition to the Reiki healing process, she regularly provided the counsel "relax. Focus on your ability. You'll do fine." Maybe that was mental Reike.
 
Interestingly, Reiki is now viewed by many as an effective, accepted alternative practice in mainstream America, where at least 1.2 million adults have tried the energy healing therapy that 60 hospitals have adopted as part of patient services and education that is reportedly offered at 800 hospitals.
 
And the high-intensity training sessions with Ann-Marie Anderson, one a week, as I have been doing with her in her Ideal Exercise Gym for more than three years, became important for her focus on ensuring that I retained the upper-body strength key for sprinting.
 
Anderson is a nationally recognized leader of a small but growing group of practitioners of an exercise technique called high-intensity resistance training, which Greczanik, also one of her clients, describes as "the new paradigm of training."
 
So after my workout on the track at 90 percent of full speed over the weekend, I told each member of the team this week: "Thanks, guys. I didn't really expect to be ready for the starting line in St. George after the hamstring pain hit, but I now know I will. So we'll see when the gun sounds mid-morning on Oct. 16 how many seconds before I reach the finish line, as well as how many guys got there ahead of me."  
 
Oops! Each of my healthcare team has admonished or scolded me on several occasions in the past three weeks to quit focusing on the idea that some will be ahead of me. "Sorry, guys!"  
 
The reality is I've never taken first in this race at the Games, but I've taken 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th. So some year there may be no one ahead of me at the finish line.
 
So of the Huntsman World Senior Games themselves. The late Jon Huntsman Sr.'s vision of creating an event that would attract hordes of seniors to Southern Utah annually to engage in competition with each other if he named it the World Senior Games has become, over three decades, likely the most successful event of its kind in ...well...the world.


As many as 10,000 seniors show up at the remote corner of the West over the two weeks to compete in the Games, which include events ranging from track and field and tennis to golf, archery, bowling, cycling, lawn bowling, and various others.

So back to this year's Games. All those on my team have joined the ranks of friends important to me and I to them. So perhaps the best incentive next week in St. George will be that I don't want to let them down.
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Two with deep roots in Bon Marche share demise thoughts

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Macy's announcement that it will close its downtown flagship store and thus bring permanent closure to the last vestige of the retail icon whose decades of visibility as simply The Bon was actually ended by Macy's in 2005 prompted two people for whom The Bon had deep roots to share their thoughts on what it meant to Seattle retailing.
 
One, Chuck Nordhoff, recalled how his great grandparents, Edward and Josephine Nordhoff, she 18 with a two year old daughter and he 32,, came west to Seattle from Chicago in 1890 to create a small dry goods store they named the Bon Marche, after a famous 1800s retailer in Paris, a European capital where Nordhoff worked for a time.
 
john BullerJohn BullerJohn Buller, on the other hand, had a key role in shaping The Bon competitively and changing the culture of the retailer in the '80s when, as training director and Director of Corporate Culture, researching the history of the company was part of his approach to aide employees in understanding their roles as current employees. He described his role to me as "changing the culture from a clerk environment to a selling environment."
 
In his research relating to history, Buller discovered some of the details that helped fashion The Bon's early appeal and that built regard for the Nordhoffs among citizens of what was, at that time, a population of about 40,000 residents scattered in and around the Seattle area.
 
One was the fact that Edward Nordhoff was one of the earliest discount retailers and the story of how he fashioned that role is an amusing bit of history that should have been more enduringly told.
 
It seems that Nordhoff, in the face of competitors who included Donald E. Frederick and Nels B. Nelson (like the Nordhoffs in their 30s when they founded Frederick & Nelson) went back to New York and returned with thousands of pennies. He gave customers back a penny for each dollar spent, basically offering a 1 percent discount on all purchases, the idea of a 1 percent discount being nothing to sneeze at in those days, apparently.
 
Chuck Nordhoff's thoughts are more future-focused as he shared with me concern about what will become of fixtures and parts of history still located on the walls and doors in the store.
 
"If there's one thing the family is interested in, it's what will happen to things like the bust of Josephine Nordhoff over the elevator door and the series of panels that are mostly dated from the earliest era, including one panel that talks of Josephine," he said.
 
He suggested there would be room for such memorabilia in the Museum of History and Industry, whose board he has been a member of and chaired.
 
In fact, Josephine Nordhoff is a woman appropriate to be remembered well beyond the store. Little recalled is her role as a prominent Seattle businesswoman. In fact, Edward Nordhoff credited her with guiding the success of the store. She was also a prominent supporter of community causes, including the Seattle Day Nursery and the Seattle Orthopedic Hospital Association.
 
As early as 1918, she championed the eight-hour workday, a controversial position at the time. She died of cancer in 1920. On the day of her funeral, all of Seattle's major downtown retailers closed their stores in her memory.
She was the first woman inducted into the Puget Sound Business Hall of Fame early in the history of the event created by Junior Achievement and the Puget Sound Business Journal.
 
Nordhoff recalls that his father, Arthur, who turned 90 on September 11, was born a year after The Bon was sold to Hahn Department Stores. Five years later Hahn Stores was bought by Allied Stores Corporation.


Chuck Nordhoff recently turned 60 and climbed Mt. Rainier with his 17-year-old daughter to celebrate the occasion.
 
"I did it 16 years ago as a belated celebration of my 40th and I promised myself I'd not do it again unless one of my children  invited me to do it with them," he chuckled, given that the invitation came for this birthday.
 
Regarding Buller and his history notes, few know that The Bon Marche drug store was the largest drug store business in the state, or that the store the then-new store that opened in downtown Seattle in the 1900s was the largest department store on the Pacific Coast.
 
And Buller notes The Bon's focus on sportswear and young men's casual business apparel created an industry based in Seattle with the likes of Brittania Jeans and Union Bay apparel. And Walter Schoenfeld, who founded Brittania (as well as being a founding investor in three Seattle pro sports team), was convinced to bring jeans in from Hong Kong in what Buller noted was one of the first retailers to get clothing from a foreign country.
 
I did a Harp on Buller several years ago that focused on his book "Survival Guide for Bureaucratic Warriors, based on his experience at The Bon training the company's 4,000 employees spread across the region. His duties eventually included the role of vice president of marketing, overseeing the operations of the company that had spread across cities in six northwest states.
 
"Changing the culture at The Bon was an effort to focus on service, both to our customers and our internal attitudes toward our fellow employees," Buller explained of the approach that led to the book.  "The book was about my learning the difference between a 'Soldier,' someone who takes orders, and a 'Warrior,' one who has a mission or a cause. I learned how to be a Warrior."

As I wrote in the column on Buller, now 72 and still entrepreneurially active: He took the warrior attitude, and the details of building survival skills, to roles as co-chair and director of the organizing committee for the NCAA Final Four in Seattle in 1995, executive director of the UW Alumni Association, CEO of Tully's Coffee and CEO of the Seattle Police Foundation.
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News report from 9/11 of global grief serves as a reminder

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(The following article, written a few days after the tragic 2011 September day that has become etched forever in our minds as 9/11, was a reporter's wrap-up of the grief that citizens of every country shared in our behalf. The piece, written by a former, now late, United Press International colleague named Al Webb from his post in UPI's London bureau, was first shared in The Harp on the 10th anniversary of that day and again on the 15th anniversary. Now it has become my annual reminder of that display of shared pain out of a sense that it deserves, or rather requires, being remembered.)    
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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 minute of silence was 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 the battlefields of Vietnam to the Houston Space Center. But he could 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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State High Court's agreeing to hear Sound Transit tax case will reignite old arguments

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The fact the State Supreme Court will hear arguments next Tuesday on the legality of how Sound Transit is imposing the vehicle taxes necessary to pay for its light rail system is sure to reignite some of the arguments about the most expensive transportation package ever undertaken in the nation.

Specifically, the issue before the nine justices will be Sound Transit's use, commencing mere months after voters in three counties approved the measure known as ST3, of a formula that inflates the value of vehicles on which the annual motor vehicle, or car-tab, tax is levied.  

The case before the high court is an appeal of a ruling by a Pierce County superior court judge who quickly dismissed a class-action lawsuit that contended the law authorizing those taxes was unconstitutional. The rapid ruling by Judge Kathryn Nelson, who basically said she wasn't qualified to decide the issue, meant Sound Transit could continue to collect the car-tab as it has been doing since early 2017.

Indeed, in addition to providing a renewed interest on the part of both supporters and opponents in replaying the arguments over the ballot measure, the high court's handling of the arguments and its eventual decision on the Pierce County case may provide some interest for court watchers. But more on that later.

For opponents of the 2016 ballot measure, the initial flap in early 2017 over the unexpected leap in car-tab (MVET) tax for motorists to renew their vehicle licenses was an I-told-you-so moment. Opponents viewed it as epitomizing the arrogance of the unelected Sound Transit board that opponents had been trying point out.

Car-tab taxes are the agency's second-largest source of revenue to pay for the massive expansion of bus and light-rail service the voters approved.

The first broad perception of Sound Transit arrogance surfaced with the outcry from motor vehicle owners, pro light rail or not, irate about the increase in the cost of renewing vehicle licenses after the excise tax had climbed dramatically, due in part to the vehicle valuation chart used by Sound Transit.

The agency uses an outdated formula, inherited from the Legislature, to estimate a car's value for the purposes of collecting taxes. The unexpectedly higher car-tab fees result from the formula that inflates newer cars' values, relative to Kelley Blue Book values.

The Legislature has repeatedly failed to pass bills that would correct the formula because while support for such legislation has been bipartisan, it has not been sufficient to approach a majority.

In fact, the outcry over the inflated MVET fee has also echoed into the legislative halls with a proposal that Sound Transit's governing body should be elected, instead of being officials elected to various local offices and then appointed to the board.

The goal of legislation that passed the State Senate, then controlled by Republicans, but got nowhere in the Democrat-controlled House, would have been to replace the 18 Sound Transit board members with 11 directors directly elected by voters in districts that would have been created by the legislature.

Sound Transit's media relations person explained that part of the reason for the large jump in MVET fees was that, in approving the $54 billion ST-3, voters said ok to a major increase in vehicle excise tax.  

The outcry would suggest that many voters weren't really aware of that.

The Sound Transit public relations representative had been quoted earlier, as the MVET flap emerged, to the extent that Sound Transit could have used a vehicle depreciation schedule that would have meant a less expensive renewal fee but chose not to "for simplicity sake," to bring transportation relief quicker.

Now back to the point of legal minds and those interested in how courts make decisions will likely be watching as the process unfolds in this case over the coming months leading to release of the court's decision.

What could be a backdrop issue here is the difference between the merits of the argument by the plaintiffs seeking to reverse the Pierce County judge's ruling and the perceived "public good" of a $54 billion regional transportation plan that impacts the revenue of hundreds of companies and thousands of jobs.

Whether something is good or bad policy has frequently been a consideration at the U.S. Supreme Court level but state supreme courts usually seek to avoid going into the "public good" issue and instead stick to interpreting the law in the case before them.

But judges on this state's high court, being human and subject to political and social tugs, could find themselves tempted not to overthrow the funding device without which Sound Transit's transportation master plan would be thrown asunder.

So while I don't advise attorneys how to practice law, I have to think it would be a missed opportunity to fail to suggest, for the judges' inclusion in their thought process, that if voters three years ago felt the plan was good public policy, the outcry over the tax to pay for it could suggest a different public attitude. And add to that the fact that it's now pretty likely that alternative vehicles added to the transportation equation could render a rail-based system obsolete years before it's due for completion.

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