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The importance of local news and organizations that gather it need to attract greater focus

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Having spent my first two decades in journalism working in the intensely competitive environment of a news service, it stirs concern as much as sadness to read that major newspaper chains are basically halting their use of the Associated Press (AP). What’s now the world’s largest news service seems likely to become smaller and less vital to the industry.
 
The role of a news service, with a global corps of reporters and editors, is to bring important information from the state, the nation and the world to readers of local publications or to listeners and viewers of local broadcast outlets. But that may soon become a journalistic yesterday.
 
In the days when there were two competing news services – the AP and the one I worked for, United Press International (UPI) -- the goal of “get it first but get it right” that permeated the competition ensured that no events that readers or listeners might need escaped those reporters. And they stood happily ready to call attention if the competitor erred on the “get it right” requirement, competition thus ensuring that error was guarded against.
 
Word that Gannett and McClatchy, two of the largest and most respected media organizations in the country, have decided to stop using AP and thus save the cost of the service, indicates an intent to diminish the amount of national and world news they’ll bring to their local readers.
 
Gannett, which publishes USA Today, may contend that the national newspaper will provide the necessary national and world coverage for its more than 100 daily newspapers and its broadcast entities. That remains to be demonstrated.
 
And the need for respected local and, for sure, national media has become more vital than ever with the emergence of entities, both national and local, for whom accuracy is intrusive on their goal of propagandizing for political or social causes.
 
The fact that propagandizing is accompanied by falsehood and fabrication helps make clear the need for respected media to remain financially healthy and viable. And that actually has begun to attract advocates.
 
A key advocate is Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, whose Local Journalism Sustainability Act was filed in 2021 with co-sponsors Sens.Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. The legislation, awaiting further action, aims to financially support local news organizations by providing tax credits to incentivize hiring more journalists, increasing circulation and attracting more advertising.
 
The new mantra for newspapers is “focus on local,” which is what newspapers have always done: run stories of interest to their local reader, even if the stories originated in Tokyo or Moscow or Washington, D.C., particularly if the stories from Washington focused on how Congress members debated and voted. Thus, stories were “local” if they related to the local readers’ members of Congress or Senate or debates that involved local issues.
 
Using dollars of any kind to enhance local coverage benefits the future of newspapers that make that investment.
 
And some investors are emerging to achieve that digitally. Thus I have begun receiving daily via email The Denver Gazette and the Salem Reporter, true local-news vehicles with news-gathering staffs and subscription charges promoted just like the New York dailies or the
Washington Post, or the Seattle Times.
 
In fact, Les Zaitz, the journalist who founded the Salem Reporter in 2018, was a former editor of The Oregonian, the state’s largest newspaper. His father, Clarence, was my friend and fellow UPI reporter and, subsequently, also an executive with the news service.
 
The decline of existing daily newspapers will likely leave similar opportunities for journalism entrepreneurs, including in places like Bellevue and the Eastside of King County, which the Seattle Times claims as its coverage and circulation area, a region once served by a quality daily newspaper for which the costs became unsustainable, then a quality weekly newspaper whose owners closed to save money.
 
Several Eastside communities, including Bothell Woodinville and Redmond, have local weekly newspapers. However, much of the area that will soon match Seattle's population remains without local media coverage, and that means opportunities for newspapers will eventually attract investors.
 
I was part of a team that sought to start an Eastside daily a few years ago. The effort by what we incorporated as Eastside Media generated a large amount of interest from key individuals and prominent business people across Eastside but eventually was shelved.
 
But it’s quite possible that if a federal program like Cantwell envisions existed when we were pursuing our Eastside Media effort, there might now be a newspaper, either print or digital, in existence on the Eastside.
 
And it's also likely that the level of Eastside local news being covered by The Times in such a competitive environment would be substantially greater.
 
As I indicated at the outset of this Harp,
competition drives coverage. And accuracy.
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New Seattle firm's goal of fractional shares to create affordable luxury homeownership

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Bill Payne's celebration of life honored the man who had the largest impact on angel investing

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Dr. Bob Greczanik, the guru of athletes' acupuncture care, has helped the health of the stars

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When I first met acupuncturist guru Robert (Dr. Bob) Greczanik, he had just returned from the Brazil Olympics in 2016—a mutual friend of Greczanik and the family of Jeremy Taiwo, the U.S.A. Number two, a decathlete, had paid him to come along because Taiwo always performed best when Dr. Bob worked with him.

Taiwo finished 111h in the 2016 Olympics but had been in first place after the first day’s five events, and Dr. Bob still expresses frustrations at not being able to work with Taiwo during the second day’s five events.

I soon learned that Dr. Bob, whose acupuncture expertise he describes as “combining Eastern and Western healing modalities,” helped Taiwo stay healthy and focused leading up to the Games and has served athletes of all ages and all sports.

So you have to earn the title guru. And you can judge how well it’s earned by the endorsement of companies and individuals to whom you have provided service.

And among those are several Seattle Seahawks, including former Seahawk Nate Burleson, now a CBS sports commentator.

“It never ceases to amaze me in my 20 years of working with him that when I was playing in the NFL he made me feel like the best version of myself, and now that I am retired, he makes me feel like a teenager again," said Burleson.

Dr.Bob's white boards where notes put up for group discussion 'kind of come alive in the conversations'Dr.Bob's white boards where notes put up for group discussion 'kind of come alive in the conversations'Despite the involvement he has with athletes of various professional sports, his first love is basketball. At 6-4, he starred in college at Whittier in suburban Los Angeles and takes every Friday off so he can spend the day playing high-level pickup games against mostly former college players.

Thus it’s appropriate that one of the players he likes to talk about working with is Jamal Crawford, the Rainier Beach High School star who, after staring at Michigan, went on to a 20-year NBA career that included a stop with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Crawford worked frequently with Dr. Bob, who told me of one occasion when Jamal called him to say he was going to be out a month with a back issue.

“So I flew back to treat him, and the next night, he played and scored 30 points,” Dr. Bob recalls with a smile.

His daughter, Makena, was an All-Metro star for Eastside Catholic this year and enrolled this fall at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, CA.

And Dr. Bob. who is 54, will admit, in conversations about what lies ahead, that his goal is to be hired full-time by an NBA team so his focus can be one group of pro basketball players to bring them to their maximum potential.

I visit with him about weekly, and usually not to be treated but to talk (and me to listen). And on about every other visit, he takes a minute because of some recent incident to express his frustration at what he calls “the lack of society’s understanding of the impact drugs have on minds and bodies.”

“I’m concerned about the kids as well as my athletes,” he said. “People don’t realize you can crank marijuana up to the equivalent of 600-proof alcohol. It can kill you.”

“It’s a problem that could be solved by those who have the authority in schools or elected office, but they don’t want to risk upsetting people, who will protest ‘quit intruding in our lives,’” he added.

Greczanik’s client base is largely athletes ranging across the U.S. and across the sports spectrum of professionals, college and younger athletes, as well as individuals. And he emphasizes that acupuncture
is only part of what he does, always referring to his energy treatment and specifying it's what "creates a zone for teams."

The first professional athlete he treated was Cindy Brown, one of the most talented women's basketball stars in college and professional ranks during the ‘90s. She was playing for the Seattle Reign of the ABL Women’s League and was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder in 1997 when Dr. Bob worked with the team, so when she got injured, he had to get her back healthy.

The first professional team to reach out to him was the Milwaukee Bucks, who asked him in 1999 to work with them long enough to treat Sam Cassell’s ankle. He took care of the ankle in three days so the Bucks had him work with the team for the remainder of a season in which they were near last place when he arrived but finished 42-40 and won a place in the playoffs.

Fortunately for me, you don’t have to be a star athlete to be one of Dr. Bob’s patients/clients. So, as a senior sprinter, becoming more senior each year, I frequently find, during one of my track workouts. A muscle somewhere on one of my legs advising me, with a painful tug, to get over it and act my age.

So it is that on each such occasion, I head for his clinic in the Hidden Valley area of Bellevue and stretch out on a cot with his needles inserted painlessly over not just the injured part of my body but, in ways I don’t understand, over other areas.

Twice, his treatments were needed shortly before I was to head off to run in the World Senior Games. And in both cases, he inserted needles, and when he pulled them out, and I asked, "what now?" the Answer was, "go run."

It was on one of those occasions when I arrived before Dr. Bob and was waiting outside his office, a huge guy in a Buffalo Bills jacket walked up.

“You looking for Dr. Bob? He’ll be back in a few minutes,” I told him, then asked, “What’s with Bill's jacket.”

“I’m a starting tackle, and I screwed up my knee so my agent told me to come see this guy,’ he replied.

That reminded me of the start of the 2017 NFL season when Dr. Bob told me: “Well, I talked with the Buffalo Bills coach, and I’m going back there.”

“How do you know the Bills coach?” I asked.

“I don’t know him, and he doesn’t know me, but players talk, and some players indicated they wanted me to help them.”

So he spent the first three games with the Bills, who won all three in upsets. In the first game, the Bills quarterback had his best game after personally working with Dr. Bob.

I told Dr Bob before he headed back for the third game, an upset of Denver, “You need to get a contract that permits you to talk about what you do.”

The reason for the suggestion was the reluctance of some teams to discuss the fact they have an acupuncturist or, worse yet, what Dr. Bob describes as “other energetic technologies” helping the team win.

He’s experienced teams’ traditional medical personnel, uncomfortable with a person providing non-traditional medicine, pushing back on his impact on the health and performance of the teams he works with.

On another topic, I once asked him about the chair-sized crystals around his offices, and, as often happens in our conversations, that brought a lesson in psychological and physiological issues.

That led him to tell me about his mentor, Jeffrey Yuen, a Chinese teacher he travels to New York to meet with several times a year. Yuen has been his mentor for years since Dr. Bob went to his lecture on “alchemy, longevity, and stones.” Yuen came to regard his student highly enough that he told Dr. Bob he was admitting him to his lineage, 88 generations of Chinese learning.

So I looked up “Master Yuen” on Bing, which has become a favorite source of information searches in recent work. my search told me.

“Master Yuen has made significant contributions to the field of acupuncture and Classical Chinese Medicine through his work at institutions such as the Swedish Institute in New York and the American University of Complementary Medicine in Los Angeles.”

“I’ve taken about 50 seminars from him,” Dr. Bob said. Thus came the crystals.

His formal education included getting his Master's of Science in Health and Human Performance at Pacific College of Health and Sciences in California in a program focused on how to use integrative medicine to enhance human function and optimize performance.

There are two whiteboards in Dr. Bob’s office, filled with the notes and phrases flowing from the periodic visits and discussions involving athletes and even some groups from Microsoft and Amazon.

“We put something on the wall and talk about it, and it kind of comes alive in discussion and stays there to pick up next time,” he explained.

Dr. Bob likes to focus on and discuss parts of the body and how to keep them healthy and issues relating to the brain and its parts and how to keep them healthy.

So that led this past weekend to a most interesting discussion on an issue that few people are aware of: How PTSD frequently leads to PTG (which stands for Post Traumatic Growth), discovered in 1995 by two professors at UNC-Charlotte.

So again, I went to Bing:

“With PTG those who have experienced severe traumatic events actually find themselves better able to grow interpersonally as a result. It refers to more than just optimism or resilience but actual personal transformations,” said the site. Apparently, about 50 percent of trauma survivors experience post-traumatic growth.

So Dr. Bob’s explanation: Acupuncture Can help with PTSD and can assist with PTG because it deals with the limbic brain centers, hippocampus, and amygdala that deal with emotions and memory.
 
As I look back over this column, I realize some readers might misjudge it as a sales pitch for Robert Greczanik. (In fact, I have sent several of my friends who had injuries to have successful visits with him).

But in fact, I merely decided I wanted to write about interesting people in my column, and after repeatedly thinking, as I left his office, “I should write a column on this guy,” this is what came out.
 
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For Marty Hartman, building Mary's Place to shelter needy families is 'about the children.'

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As Marty Hartman reflects on her 24 years guiding the growth of Mary’s Place from its birth in 1999 as a drop-in center for homeless women in downtown Seattle to a $30 million non-profit that aims to guide families out of homelessness, she makes in clear “we’re about the children.”

“No child should be left to sleep outside,” Hartman repeats in an interview as she shares her thoughts on her years of guiding the organization from which she is retiring as executive director on December 1.

It was as an at-home mom of four kids, 7, twins 9 and 11, that she was hired by an organization started as the Church of Mary Magdalene to open a day center in downtown Seattle called Mary’s Place to provide service to women experiencing homelessness. She had a degree in residential therapy and had been active in providing various kinds of therapy services when she decided to stay at home to raise her family, but she couldn’t say ‘no’ to the call of Mary’s Place.

Over the following nearly quarter-century, she grew Mary’s Place into an organization operating five 24-7 family shelters in King County with two in the South Lake Union area, one in Kenmore, one downtown Bellevue, and one they own in Burien.
“We fill buildings slated for demolition since it normally takes about two years to get a permit to take down an existing structure to prepare for a new one,” Hartman explained.

Mary's Place Executive director Marty HartmanFor Mary's Place Executive director Marty Hartman, providing shelter for families is 'about the children'The Bellevue location, an abandoned Silver Cloud Hotel, is a perfect example. Families with children have occupied it as an ideal location, a block from the Bellevue Children’s Museum and across the street, several blocks of grass, and a treed parkway bordering 112th NE.

But they’ve been told by developer SRM that it is planning a seven-story residential complex in place of the old hotel, so Mary’s Place will have a 120-day period to move once they get the final word.
When that happens, Mary’s Place will have to be helped to find a new location, or it will no longer have a presence on the Eastside.

Perhaps the coolest thing to happen to Mary’s Place is when Amazon, in March of 2020, donated eight floors of its headquarters for permanent use by Mary’s Place, which shelters 200 family members there.

The Burien facility located on 4.3 acres the organization purchased is providing a partnership with Mercy Housing to develop a sheller for 200 family members co-located with 90 units of affordable housing.

Hartman’s reference to the organization’s focus on children is exemplified by the creation of Mary’s Place’s Popsicle Place program.

It’s a program dedicated to the proposition that children with life-threatening illnesses should not be living in cars and tents awaiting treatments like chemo or dialysis.

As the Mary’s Place website explains, Popsicle Place “Provides comfort and care in a more private setting for medically fragile children and their families, many of whom are recovering from chemo, dialysis, and other treatments while living in their cars outside hospitals.”

The Mary’s Place Health Services team works with Popsicle Place families to make connections to necessary medical care, assist with follow-up, and support them in a shelter to ensure a safe and healthy environment while navigating their journey into permanent housing.

The organization’s “no child sleeps outside” campaign has elevated the awareness of family homelessness and the fact that even today, there are hundreds of children sleeping outside, Hartman said.

When I asked her what’s the key to stopping homelessness, she said, “Prevent it from happening in the first place by providing rental assistance and stability supports,” but added, “There’s little money being directed toward shelter programs,”

About the possibility Mary’s Place could be a model for other communities, Hartman said there has been internal discussion about possible expansion into the state’s three other most populous counties: Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane. But she added there have been no steps toward actual geographic expansion of Mary’s Place’s reach.

When I asked her if that could be a task that lies ahead for her in retirement, she merely chuckled and said those kinds of decisions will be in the hands of Dominique Alex, the current chief program officer, who will serve as interim executive director.

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Lee Hood, an architect of the human genome project known as HGP, envisions AI-focused HGP2

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The Human Genome Project (HGP), the blueprint that represented a vital global contribution to the advancement of human health, marked its 20th anniversary this year with little notice or reflection.

Except, perhaps, for the publication by Leroy Hood, one of the key architects of that landmark project, of his book, The Age of Scientific Wellness, which may help open the door to HGP2.

Launched in October 1990 and completed in April 2003, the Human Genome Project’s signature accomplishment of generating the first sequence of the human genome provided fundamental information about the human blueprint. It has since accelerated the study of human biology and improved the practice of medicine.

It opened new avenues for research in fields such as personalized medicine, gene therapy, and genetic counseling. It has also helped us better understand the genetic basis of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Hood is actually Leroy Hood, M.D., and PhD. He got his medical degree at Johns Hopkins between undergrad and doctoral education at Caltech in Pasadena.

Hood was a professor at Caltech in the 1980s, where he developed automated methods for sequencing DNA, a process that was essential to the Human Genome Project, for which he was involved from the first meeting in 1985 at UCal Santa Cruz.

Hood was not some kid from a remote small town in Montana who found his way to a little-known small college near the mountains northeast of Los Angeles.

Caltech, officially the California Institute of Technology, is among a small group of institutes of technology in the United States and is ranked among the best academic institutions in the world. Hood, who had been guided by his grandfather and father to focus on science, was induced to go to Caltech by a teacher at Shelby High who had graduated from there and sought to convince his best students to consider going to Caltech.

And appropriately for the outcome, Hood took his advise.

Lee HoodLee Hood envisions a healthcare future guided by AI that will bring years longer healthy life.
Hood, co-founder the Seattle-based Institute for Systems Biology, also coined the term “P4 medicine,” which is the idea that healthcare should be “predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory.”

Hood envisions a healthcare future and his book details the path, with his Human Phenome Initiative mapping the way, to achieve his goal: “I want to see people move into their ‘90s (and beyond) excited, creative and functional.”

He sees the key change from healthcare of today to the healthcare of the future hinges on the optimization of individual wellness and early detection of wellness-to-disease transitions, offering the potential for reversal before the emergence of clinically diagnosable disease.

The 13-year Human Genome Project was launched by the U.S. Department of Energy, which pitched it to Congress in 1987, and the National Institute of Health. Both funded the $2.7 billion cost, with support from organizations in other countries.

Now Hood offers a look at HGP2, and he might suggest the 20th anniversary of the original HGP as a logical time to launch “2,” The Human Phenome Initiative.

That’s an ambitious plan conceived at Phenome Health, the nonprofit that Hood founded in 2021 to advance a science and data-driven approach to optimize the brain and body health of individuals.

This Project would analyze the genomes and phenomes of one million individuals across the US over 10 years with the individuals selected to reflect the racial and demographic diversity of the U.S. It’s an enormously ambitious endeavor that he believes will demonstrate to the world the power of P4 healthcare.

Hood notes that the realization of P4 health will depend on many moving parts, but no tool will be more important than artificial intelligence.
Systems are already transforming healthcare. But Hood sees those changes accelerating to such a degree that “AI will soon be as much a part of our healthcare experience as doctors, nurses, waiting rooms and pharmacies.”

“In fact,” Hood suggests, “it won’t be long before AI has mostly replaced or redefined all of those.”
And Hood’s view of the future is of one built on scientific wellness in which interaction with artificial intelligence will be a normal part of healthcare.

It’s no longer news that the medical profession is expecting AI to be part of the future of medicine.
But in his book and in a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal headlined “The AI will see now” and co-authored by Nathan Price, Ph.D., the co-author of his book, the pair make the point that doctors are turning to AI tools to help them make the best decisions for patients.

Price is Chief Science Officer of New York-based Thorne HealthTech, a health intelligence company focused on leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to map the biological features related to an individual’s health.

Offering interesting imagery to those aware of the mythological half-horse, half-human centaur, Hood said “We are fast approaching the time of centaur doctors. They will combine the best parts of human intelligence and AI assistance and be empowered to make bold medical decisions with far fewer unintended consequences.”

What Hood may have had in mind is that the most famous centaur in Greek mythology is Chiron, who was known for his wisdom and knowledge of medicine.

The Human Genome Project came about because of a fortunate convergence of focus of two important government departments whose leadership convinced the Reagan Administration and Congress of the project’s importance.

Hood will face an equally daunting challenge in the quest for funding for the Human Phenome Initiative. But we live in a different era in two important ways, one challenging and one fortunate.
Getting an administration and a Congress that are more focused on disruption than anything resembling cooperation and progress on something important to the future seems maximum difficult, in fact unlikely.

But on the plus side, we live in a philanthropic time when two women could either or both sign a check to match the cost of HGP2 with little pause and without the need for government,
With McKenzie Scott’s net worth of $64 billion and Melinda Gates’ $10.7 billion and both spending freely on worthy causes, it may be that all Hood needs is an audience to tell his story because he tells it well and with the authority of his accomplishments.

But congressional concern about keeping up with China has actually given the lawmakers something to agree on and may open another opportunity for Hood’s initiative.

The Global Technology Leadership Act is a bipartisan AI bill aimed at keeping up with China. It would establish an office that analyzes how the country is keeping up with China and envisions billions being spent on crucial technologies like AI,
.
Hood, who was a star high school quarterback in the small Montana town of Shelby and played halfback on Caltech’s football team, is proud of his athletic ability and his staying in condition. He has shared that though he is 85, his doctors say his biological age is 15 years younger.

He joked to me he actually played in 16 Rose Bowl games, to which any football-knowledgeable person would say, “can you explain that?”

Hood answered: “Caltech’s home field was the Rose Bowl, so each home game, we could look at the 200 or so fans on our side of the stadium and the 100 or so on the other side and focus on the thousands of empty seats and say ‘we’re playing a game in the Rose Bowl—a Rose Bowl game.

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The Attorney Who Kept Mariners and Seahawks From Leaving Retires

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Arthur Harrigan, the Seattle attorney who, with little fanfare or thanks, used his legal prowess to save the Seattle Mariners and Seahawks, has retired from the firm he founded in 1986.

But Harrigan, now 79, shouldn’t be permitted to ride off into the sunset without belated acknowledgment by the community whose professional teams remain here because of him, despite credit having been legitimately shared with several others.

In essence, Harrigan’s legal victories over Jeff Smulyan and Ken Behring that prevented their moving the teams to other cities paved the way for finding local owners for their teams. In the case of the Mariners, that allowed the late Sen. Slade Gorton to emerge as a hero for finding local ownership in Nintendo and owner Hiroshi Yamauchi.

Harrigan is having trouble finding the sunset as he remains involved as a funder, organizer, and chairman of an energy project designed to help save the planet.

Art Harrigan's legal maneuvering to save Mariners got no visibility but paved the way to find local buyerThe legal battles with the owners of two of Seattle’s professional sports teams came about because they were tenants of the Kingdome, having leases with King County, which was a longtime client of Harrigan’s law firm. So it fell to him to keep the teams from moving.

The venue for resolving the future of the Seattle Mariners franchise was what amounted to an arbitration hearing before Arthur Andersen, the national accounting firm that both sides agreed to have decided some key issues relating to the lease.
Since it wasn't a court process, which would have gotten large visibility for the battle between attorneys over the fate of the Mariners, the outcome got no media attention.

So it was amusing to both Harrigan and me that after I first wrote a column about seven years ago on his success in keeping the two teams, he told me his staff, in reading the column, asked, “How come no one knew of this back in 1992?”

Harrigan's maneuvering over the meaning of wording in Smulyan's contract regarding an attendance clause accepted by the Andersen firm was key to the final outcome,

So Smulyan was required to give a four-month opportunity for a local buyer to be found. And of likely equal importance, Harrigan successfully argued that there should be a local value lower than the open-market value.

The accounting firm agreed and set a "stay-in-Seattle" valuation at $100 million, rather than the national open-market value of $135 million that it had determined.

That created the opportunity for Gorton and others to lead the effort to keep the team in Seattle to find a local buyer for $100 million, rather than $135 million, within four months.

No one knows if, at $135 million, Nintendo's owner would have opted to pick up the cost of saving the Mariners for Seattle.

More visible was the effort to save the Seahawks since the battle with Ken Behring included a decision by the State Supreme Court.
King County hired Harrigan's firm to keep Behring from fulfilling his widely publicized intent in the winter of 1996 to leave Seattle and move the team to Los Angeles.

Behring made the argument after some tiles had fallen from the Kingdome roof, that he had concerns about the seismic security of the Dome as he announced that he was moving the team to Los Angeles.

Harrigan recalled the meeting at which he, King County Executive Gary Locke, and his assistant and chief civil deputy Dick Holmquist met with Behring and his attorney, Ron Olson, who Harrigan noted was also Warren Buffet's attorney.

He said Olson read from a yellow pad, explaining that the team, fearing earthquakes might impact the Kingdome, had to be moved to the comparative safety of Southern California and the Rose Bowl.
“Holmquist and I were trying not to laugh," he said.

"We were poised to file a temporary restraining order the moment the meeting ended, Harrigan said. “In the meantime, the trucks had already begun the moving process.”

"So when Behring and Olson left the room, I made the call, and the restraining order was filed," he added. "Had that not happened, we would have had to go to California and ask a California judge to send them back."

In the same timeframe, the NFL owners were holding their annual meeting in Boca Raton and wanted to hear what both sides had to say," Harrigan said. "I brought along Jon Magnusson and two other renowned structural engineers with West Coast seismic design expertise who explained that the idea that Southern California was safer than the Kingdome in case of earthquake was ludicrous."

The legal maneuvering all came to an end when it was announced that Paul Allen had purchased the Seahawks.

Now that the man responsible for this little-known piece of Seattle sports history has retired, there needs to be some recognition of what he accomplished.

There’s also an interesting piece of far-reaching legal history for Harrigan from when he was a young attorney in 1975 and spent a year as senior counsel to the Church Committee, the original Senate Intelligence Committee.

Chaired by Idaho Sen. Frank Church, the U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence was looking into all federal intelligence activities, including IRS activity.

Harrigan discovered that other intelligence agencies were obtaining tax returns from the IRS and using the information for their own purposes. In one instance, the goal was to prompt an IRS audit of a Minnesota citizen to take place during the 1968 Democratic Convention so that the individual could not attend.

Harrigan determined the IRS wasn’t initiating its own audits of individuals but was responding to requests from other federal for the returns of individuals whose activities the agency was concerned about.

He said when he appeared before the full committee, Goldwater, Church, Mondale, and others, to tell them what he had learned, Mondale was outraged that one of his constituents was among those abused by the process.

“Mondale called a full-day committee hearing,” Harrigan remembered. “In the meantime, I had already told the IRS Commissioner what we had learned, and before the Senate hearing, he had already adopted new regulations to ensure nothing like that could ever happen, installing audit rights against any agency that has sought tax information from the IRS. We had the hearing. The Commissioner reported that he had already stopped this in its tracks. Frontpage NY Times the next day.”

As to the climate-aiding energy project that is still on Harrigan’s business plate, where it has been since he first got involved a dozen years ago, it's called Advanced Rail Energy Storage (ARES),

It’s basically “highly efficient’ electric rail cars running uphill and generating energy, converting electric power to mechanical potential energy, which is delivered when the cars are deployed downhill.

Harrigan and prominent Bellevue business leader Spike Anderson provided much of the initial and continuing funding for this system which CEO Howard Trott, another Seattleite, has in recent years led. The ARES system has already attracted attention from utilities around the country.

It’s been seven years since I did a column on the project, headlined “Seattle investor friends focus on ‘The Holy Grail of Energy’ train project,” indicating their long-term commitment to the time and cost of bringing the project to final deployment.

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Don Bonker might have become the state's senior U. S. Senator but for encountering Patty Murray in the 'Year of the Woman'

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Don Bonker might have become the state's senior U. S. Senator but for encountering Patty Murray in the 'Year of the Woman'

Bonker, a friend for more than half a century, might well have become this state's senior U.S. Senator had he not encountered Patty Murray in the race for the 1992 Democratic Senate nomination.

Bonker's political credentials as a seven-term Congressman from the Third District in Southwest Washington and a congressional leader on trade issues, were far more impressive than those of Murray, a state legislator.

But Murray had the benefit of being 'The Mom in Tennis Shoes" in the year Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were elected in California and Carol Moseley Braun in Illinois as the first black female in the Senate, in what became widely known as "The Year of the Woman."

Those four women were sworn in the following Congress, the first time the Senate had welcomed four new women senators, all the result of people believing Anita Hill wasn't lying in her accusations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. So other men paid the price for Thomas in that political year.

Bonker's trade credentials, both those he earned during his 14 years in Congress from 1974 to 1988 and from his involvements thereafter, gained him broad respect in this country and abroad for his trade and foreign investment knowledge.

Mike FlynnDon Bonker

I got to know Bonker well from the late '60s when he was in his early '30s and an innovative auditor from Clark County, laying the groundwork for an intended but unsuccessful run for secretary of state. I was UPI's state political editor in Olympia in my late '20s.

We got together at many Democratic gatherings, I as reporter and he as participant, spending time together since we were usually the two youngest people in the room.

Later, after his first unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate when he lost the nomination bid to the late Mike Lowry, I had him write a regular trade-issues column for Puget Sound Business Journal.

During his tenure in Congress, Bonker authored and was a principal sponsor of significant trade legislation, including the Export Trading Company Act and the Export Administration Act. I had fun telling friends occasionally when Bonker came up in conversation that after he left Congress, we met for lunch and he gave me a photo of us that had been taken at a 1968 political fundraiser for Sen. Martin Durkan and that had hung on his wall during his years in Congress.

After sharing the story, I then added with a chuckle that the reason the photo with me had hung on his wall was because of the third person in the photo, then-Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana, a Democratic presidential hopeful and one of Bonker's heroes.

Bonker, in recent years, had traveled back and forth regularly from his Bainbridge Island home to Washington, D.C., where he was an executive director and on the international advisory council of APCO Worldwide, global public affairs & strategic communications consultancy.

We hadn't visited for a decade or more when I suggested that we have lunch so I could learn about his then-newly published autobiography called Dancing to the Capitol. The book begins with what the foreword describes as "a wry take on his brief stint as a dance instructor, which gives the book its title and its spirit."

The foreword, by former Los Angeles Times editor Shelby Coffey who is now vice chairman of the Museum, describes Bonker as "a man of faith--often struggling with being both a Democrat and a Christian," and noting that Bonker helped bring the National prayer breakfast to international prominence.

"He has been a key, if quiet, force for others of faith who contend in public life," Coffey wrote.

"My own achievements on international trade, human rights, preserving our natural resources happened only because of bipartisan support," Bonker wrote in his 2020 autobiography, "A Higher Calling: Faith and Politics in the Public Square."

I got together with Bonker for lunch again a year or so ago and invited Brian Baird, who became Third District Congressman a decade after Bonker left the office, to join us.

So I asked Baird this weekend for his thoughts on Bonker: "He was a friend. Mentor. Role model and outstanding public servant, who served our state in countless ways right to the end. He stayed engaged and informed and always found ways to make a difference."

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Divided communities are putting small-town newspapers to the test of journalism integrity

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In a divided nation where some openly suggest civil war lies ahead, leaders and some elected officials in various communities across the land seem to be intent on producing a script that would bring that about. And thus local media in little-known places like Cottonwood, CA, and McCurtain County, OK, are being put to a real test of journalistic integrity, and even courage.

So this column is about the battle being waged by newspapers in some small towns, suggesting you don’t have to be a major newspaper or one in a major city to be called to serve the people’s right to know. And know with accuracy.

And in an era where many newspapers in towns and cities are being purchased by companies that have been described as corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism for the profits, it’s heartening for advocates of quality local journalism to see that quality occurring..

One of those local journalism dramas is unfolding in McCurtain County in Southeast Oklahoma, where clean rivers and lakes and forested foothills have attracted North Texas residents in growing numbers.

And now it has attracted national attention with an AP story distributed across the country with the lead paragraph noting “the growing optimism about the county’s future took a gut punch.”
That came about when the local daily newspaper, the McCurtain Gazette-News, reported on a conversation among several county officials, including the sheriff and a county commissioner who were caught on tape discussing killing journalists and lynching black people.

The tiny Gazette-News, with circulation of about 4,000 and not even having a website, is locally owned since 1988 by the Willingham family, which also owns the local weekly Broken Bow News.

 But many of the other 200 or so newspapers in the state covered the story, including the role of the local newspaper that broke the story.

Residents gathered over the weekend in Idabel, the county seat, to demand the removal of the local officials. Not the kind of protest those in big cities expect from residents in rural America, such negative expectations amounting to prejudiced and divisive thinking in itself.

The governor has called on the state attorney general to investigate and take action to remove the officials, if appropriate. And the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association suspended three McCurtain County Officials
.
So now over to the Shasta County town of Cottonwood, midway between Redding and Red Bluff in Northern California. And covering the divide that has developed in the community of 6,200 is Dani Chamberlain, a former columnist with one of the local dailies who started an online magazine she named A News Café, that documents local affairs, and readers came with her.

But then Covid shut down the state, and laid bare the bitter fault lines that divided this community.

Residents angry over pandemic closures began filling county meetings, sometimes forcing their way inside, and directed their ire at elected officials who enforced only the minimum restrictions required by the state.
 
One local resident, Carlos Zapata, warned the board of supervisors at a meeting in August 2020 to reopen the county or things wouldn’t be “peaceful much longer.” Chamberlain has written of Zapata extensively, including calling him “an alt-right recall kingpin, militia member, semen-purveyor, former Florida strip-club owner.”
 
And another resident said at a board of supervisors meeting in January 2021: “When the ballot box is gone, there is only the cartridge box. You have made bullets expensive, but luckily for you, ropes are reusable.”

.But there was more than just a backlash under way. The anger coalesced into an anti-establishment movement backed financially by a Connecticut millionaire named Reverge Anselmo, who Chamberlain described as having a longstanding grudge against the county over a failed effort to start a winery.

The response of parts of Chamberlain's community has left her shocked: “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be to be a journalist. I shouldn’t go to my car afraid one of these guys is gonna bash me in the head with a baseball bat,” she said.

And the situation in Cottonwood has attracted international media attention, with a major story last week in the U.S, edition of the respected United Kingdom newspaper, the Guardian.

I reached out to my one-time UPI colleague, William Ketter, long one of the nation’s most respected media executives, for his thoughts and he called fhe McCurtain County situation “beyond the pale.”

“I applaud the courage of the Willingham Family and the McCurtain Gazette-News for pursing public records and aggressively reporting on suspicious conduct of the sheriff’s office and the county commissioners. That’s what good, responsible local newspapers do. They are not intimidated.”

On the news “dark” side, though, there are too many newspapers now that lack the courage to even write stories that would upset an advertiser let alone face threats from some in the community upset at the local news coverage.

Ketter is the senior vice president for news at a newspaper company named Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., (CNHI), which owns 80 local newspapers, mostly dailies, and digital sites in 26 Midwest, Southwest, Southeast and Northeast states.

“My company’s newspapers focus their coverage on common concerns and interests of the communities we serve…We take our watchdog role seriously,” Ketter said.

Ketter’s background, in addition to his time at UPI, includes serving as editor of the Quincy Patriot Ledger, a suburban Boston daily, for 20 years, then editing the Lawrence, MA, Eagle-Tribune, where his staff won the Pulitzer prize for breaking news coverage in 2002.

As a long-time journalist, I’ve been concerned about the future of the daily newspaper industry as it has become the focus of companies like Alden Global Capital, dubbed by vanity Fair as “the grim reaper of American newspapers,” buying them and tearing them down for profits.

Thus I’ve been intrigued by Ketter’s company.

CNHI’s ownership is pleasingly unusual. The Alabama Retirement Systems bought CNHI, which had grown from a handful of newspapers in 1997 to one of the nation’s largest local newspaper groups, in 2019.

And every indication since then is that the retirement systems’ intent is that the newspapers, magazines, websites and specialty products that are part of CNHI make service to their communities a priority, with the premise that profits will follow media done right.
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As NHL playoffs unfold — 32 Bar and Grill overlooking Kraken Ice Complex may be the most popular

Seattle_Kraken

As Northwest hockey fans thrill at the play of their playoff Kraken and media explore every aspect of the young team’s performance, I thought I’d offer a look at the restaurant at Kraken headquarters that fans are flocking to.

The 32 Bar and Grill overlooking Kraken Community Ice Complex at Northgate may well become the most popular family restaurant in Seattle as the NHL playoffs unfold. And beyond.

Certainly, Kraken President and CEO Tod Leiweke and his management team might say a special family-friendly place to watch the record-setting young hockey team is an important part of what’s taking place this year.

Tod Leiweke(R) and Buoy mascotTod Leiweke(R) and Buoy mascotAnd 32 is destined, as the Kraken hockey team set an NHL record for victories in an expansion team’s second season in earning a playoff berth, to fashion memories present and future to go with the memories built into it.

The restaurant's east side is huge windows overlooking two ice rinks, one of which is the Kraken practice. Both are busy much of the day with hockey players of all ages or just skaters.

The man the Kraken hired as a consultant to create the food and beverage experience at the restaurant overlooking two ice rinks a floor below is Mick McHugh, whose iconic F.X. McRory’s Steak Chop and Oyster House in Pioneer Square epitomized The Irish Pub.

McHugh, who closed McRory’s in 2017 after 40 years of capturing the loyalty of baseball, football, and soccer fans, was told by Rob Lampman, now Kraken COO, “We want to do McRory’s hockey bar.”

McHugh took that to mean not that he was to create an Irish pub but rather a food and beverage experience like that which made McRory’s unique for those who became the regular crowd,

And since 32 opened in the fall of 2021, its “regular crowd” has come to feature families with youngsters from grade school on up, most clad in Kraken soccer gear, many of the kids to be on the ice rinks below before or after joining their parents to dine. And McHugh is on hand most lunches cleaning tables and picking up dishes.

And the man responsible for already building Seattle sports memories as the guy who, as CEO of the Seattle Seahawks, guided the NFL team to its first super bowl in 2006, is excited about the memories to come with the Kraken.

“This team is a really big deal for Seattle,” Leiweke enthused as he brought the Kraken mascot, Buoy the sea troll, to meet me and take my picture with him. Leiweke’s office and those of other executives and employees are down the hall from the restaurant in the $90 million state-of-the-art practice facility. It's their eating place as well.

“This is the largest improvement in wins, with 19, and points, with 40, for any team from its first to second season in NHL history,” Leiweke offered.

It hasn't seemed to get visibility in all the media attention focused on the Kraken locally or nationally, but two other teams that Leiweke served as CEO are also in the playoffs this year.

Leiweke was the head man with the Minnesota Wild, third this year in the Central Division when Paul Allen plucked him in 2003 to be CEO of the Seahawks. He guided the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl two years later, though they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He was hired in July of 2010 to become CEO of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Storm and run the Tampa Bay Times Forum

The Lightning are in these playoffs as third-place finishers in the Atlantic Division.

I recall that in 2012, as Leiweke and I were trading emails about the Seahawks, one of his emails included a photo of the sun setting on Tampa Bay with his comment: “This is my paddle board space.”

No back to McHugh and recalling that while his McRory’s bar boasted a Guinness World Record designation as the establishment with the most bottles of public spirits, more than 1,600 brands of whiskey, 32 features 1,432 hockey pucks from around the world embedded in the bar top.

“I wanted to establish the spirit of McRory’s, so I worked hard with getting the back bar zigged and zagged and got its mirrors up to the ceiling,” McHugh said.

“It was Lampman’s idea to do the pucks in the bar top,” McHugh said. “So we sent a letter to the International Ice Hockey Federation seeking to spread the word to send us pucks.”
“I also encouraged them to hire a food and beverage manager and had one in mind,” he added.
Mick McHugh (L) and Ken Moriarity, the 12-restaurant team

Mick McHugh (L) and Ken Moriarity, the 12 restaurant teamMick McHugh (L) and Ken Moriarity, the 12 restaurant teamSo Ken Moriarity, who had worked with famed restaurateur Victor Rossellini as a teenager and then later opened his own Classic Catering that had been forced to close during COVID, was the man McHugh wanted. McHugh had also worked with Rosellini early in his career.

Moriarity was hired near to the opening of the facility, a little ahead of when he was budgeted, McHugh said, “to avoid his being hired by one of the big food firms.”.

But Moriarity has an unusual added responsibility in that the Kraken Center has a second restaurant on the first floor, necessitated by an NHL rule that facilities owned by teams have breakfast and lunch available for players.

In addition, NHL food facilities must have a nutritionist. Thus the nutrition focus required for the player's restaurant, provided by a person under contract who works with the players on training as well as nutrition, benefits the offerings of the family restaurant on the second floor.

McHugh said he urged management to buy a pizza oven, which he described as “a good bang for the buck for parents and kids, providing for things like pizza parties.”

As I visited with McHugh and Moriarity at 32 as they prepared for the opening-night TV-viewing crowd for what turned out to be the victorious playoff opener in Denver, I suggested to Moriarity that the 300-person capacity of the place was going to be strained.

That will be increasingly true as fans headed for games at the Arena are discovering the best parking is at Northgate, where they can stop in at 32 before or after games that are a light rail trip to the Arena.

Plus, Moriarity noted that one of the ice rinks was going to serve as a skating-party facility where skaters could watch the playoff games at the same time as they skated.

And I kidded McHugh, actually semi-kidding, that the last missing factor in the 32 bar is the eye-catching wall-sized portrait of the McRory bar itself by the late renowned sports artist LeRoy Neiman.

McHugh relishes the retelling of the Neiman-painting story. The artist was being featured at a showing of artwork in Seattle and was brought to dinner at McRory's.

McHugh recalls Neiman's enthusiasm that evening, saying, "I've seen all the great bars and never seen a bar like this! How many bottles do you have?" "I told him we had maybe 800 bottles on the back bar and then asked him, 'Why not paint it for us?'"

"After some back and forth, he finally said it would cost $100,000, two first-class plane tickets from New York to Seattle and being put up at the Four Seasons, and he'd agree to do the sketch and painting the following St. Patrick's Day," McHugh recalls. "But after doing the bar, he hit an artist's wall about how to do all the bottles," he added.


While McHugh goes on in detail with enthusiasm about how the final addition of the bottles came about. The short of it is they arrived at Neiman's apartment in Manhattan with two gold bars worth $25,000 as the down payment on completion of the painting. Neiman still resisted because of his block over how to do the bottles until his wife suggested a collage of labels that McHugh would soak off the bottles and mail them back to Neiman. That's how the painting finally emerged.

As we talked on the phone this week, he said, “I’m looking at it right now on my condo wall. We’ll see.”

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'Declaration of Innocence' fitting closure from Judges for Justice for two men's end of 24 years in jail

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A “Declaration of Innocence” document presented by the CEO and founder of Seattle-based Judges for Justice to two men at a dinner on the evening of their release from Ohio prisons was a fitting closure to their 24 years behind bars for a crime they had nothing to do with.

Michael Heavey, former Washington state legislator and retired King County superior court who created Judges for Justice (JFJ) a decade ago, presented the document, signed by him and three other retired judges to Karl Willis and Wayne Braddy Jr,

The two Toledo men, convicted in early 2000 of the 1998 murder of 13-year-old Maurice Purifie, ‘were grateful to have four judges proclaim them 100 percent innocent,” Heavey remarked following the dinner.

Karl Wilis (L), Mike Heavey, Wayne Braddy and Deborah Fleck in front of Ohio courthouseKarl Wilis (L), Mike Heavey, Wayne Braddy and Deborah Fleck in front of Ohio courthouseAs the two men emerged from court the morning the judge pronounced them free to go, they wore gray hoodies emblazoned with the initials O.I,P., standing for the Ohio Innocence Project, which had launched the effort to free the men, in cooperation with the retired judges group.

The O.I.P effort was spurred by former King County Judge Deborah Fleck and her son, Tyler Fleck, who is married to a cousin of Braddy. Fleck challenged the prosecutor by writing behind-the-scenes letters questioning the convictions while her son created a website, www.freewayneandkarl.com, and they helped turn the tide.
 
The final chapter came to be written when Ohio Innocence Project deputy director, Jennifer Bergeron, contacted local Toledo TV station WTOL 11 in 2019.  Brian Dugger, an award-winning investigative journalist, spent hundreds of hours investigating this case.   WTOL aired his broadcast, Guilty Without Proof,, in August of 2019 and aired an update in August of 2020, bringing public attention to these wrongful convictions.

For years, Lucas County prosecutor Julia Bates staunchly defended the aggravated-murder convictions. However, in open court on March 28, Bates supported Braddy and Willis being released, noting that the case had attracted the attention of "retired judges from far away from Ohio.”
Karl Wilis (L), Mike Heavey, Wayne Braddy and Deborah Fleck in front of Ohio courthouse

What Heavey refers to as “turning the court of public opinion” is the process by which Heavey approaches cases Judges for Justice has decided are instances of wrongful conviction.

Heavey’s premise has always been that “the vast majority of people are good, honest, and kind. And once educated, they will not tolerate an injustice in their midst. In the end, the good people of Ohio, friend-to-friend and neighbor-to-neighbor, saw the injustice and demanded it be rectified. The public swell to right the injustice motivated the prosecutor to do the right thing.”

Heavey’s organization’s effort to create public support for the wrongfully convicted is almost the reverse of what got those people to prison in the first place.

As he has explained it: “any shocking crime generates fear in the community. Fear generates pressure on law enforcement and that pressure leads to what we call a ‘wrongful conviction climate’ where pressure leads to tunnel vision and its perverse by-product: noble-cause corruption.”

The Ohio case is the second high-visibility victory for Judges for Justice this year.

The January exoneration and release from prison of Albert “Ian” Schweitzer, a native Hawaiian man, after he had served 21-plus years of a 130-year sentence for the 1991 kidnap, rape, and murder of 23-year-old Dana Ireland on the Big Island drew national attention.

Heavey noted that “our 14-part documentary, Murder in Hawaii, seen by thousands of Big Island residents, changed public opinion from ‘They are cold-blooded killers’ to ‘they are innocent men wrongfully convicted.’”

As part of the public pressure Heavey mounts, he noted that “at the end of episode 11 we give the names, addresses and phone numbers for the prosecutor, mayor and police chief. We then tell viewers if they believe the case should be reopened and the real killer be pursued, please contact these offices.”

“There were over 37,000 views of Episode 11 and if just one percent, 370 people, contacted them, they would have been inundated with calls and letters,” Heavey said with a chuckle.

But there was no reference during the dramatic final court proceeding in which Schweitzer was released, nor in the media coverage on national tv news or newspapers from Seattle to New York, of the part Judges for Justice played in turning public opinion in Hawaii in Schweitzer’s favor.

And that represents one of the key challenges for Heavey’s organization: It lacks sufficient visibility with much of the financial support coming from retired Washington State superior court judges.

In addition, former Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander has been supportive “with advice and dollars” and former Justice Richard Sanders has also been supportive, Heavey said.

He notes that Judge Jay White (ret.), a Kent resident and former King County Superior Court judge, “has been an unofficial co-CEO of JFJ for the past four years and is my right arm and backbone.”

Thus it may be appropriate to celebrate the 10th anniversary of JFJ as an occasion to launch a fund-raising effort on the group’s behalf. That’s likely to be quickly echoed by his close supporters and friends, like U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, a close friend since they were freshmen in the state house of representatives in 1987 and prominent investor John Rudolf, who has already expressed interest in such an effort.

Both are part of what Heavey refers to as his "bucket brigade" of donors.

A last case on JFJ's list, for now, is the case of Patty Rorrer, serving two life sentences in Pennsylvania for the 1994 murder of a woman and her infant that snagged worldwide attention during the search for the missing woman and baby.

More than 20 years after her conviction, JFJ is helping to build the case that she was innocent.

I have done several columns on Heavey and his organization in recent years and have been continually surprised by the fact that in an era where concern about injustice to minority-community members has soared, attention to Heavey’s organization has not.

I recently asked Heavey, 76 and a decorated Vietnam veteran, if there are other cases around the country of wrongful imprisonment that he could get involved in and he said: “there are dozens of requests from around the country” out of, he guessed, “thousands.”

“I’d love to have the funding for us to pursue 20 to 40 cases where we believe the person is innocent,’ he added.

The case that provided the launch for Judges for Justice was one with the highest possible visibility, the trial, conviction and imprisonment of his daughter’s high school friend, Amanda Knox. After Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were arrested in Italy in 2007 for the murder of her roommate, Heavey believed her innocent and got heavily involved in turning back Italian justice.

Heavey and others from more than 5,000 miles away in Seattle helped turn the tide of public opinion in favor of Knox and Sollecito.  Knox and Sollecito were finally freed in 2011 after serving four years in Italian prisons.
 
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Marking Women's History Month with a recollection of two women who had key roles in my history

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Before this year's Women's History Month ends, I want to offer a recollection of two women who are key parts of my history. And who paved the way for a third woman.

It's a legitimate journalistic journey because Women's History Month is not only about celebrating women's accomplishments but also the contributions they have made to make life better for others.

So this column is to share about the impact of my mother, Hazel, whom I wrote about last Mother's Day, so I won't repeat the column, only the enduring part, and my first journalism boss, Roberta "Bobbie" Ulrich.

First Bobbi. As I wrote in a column a few years ago, when I 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.That's a long-ago time when many assume that women were unlikely to be the boss.

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 respect from the then-exclusive male-reporter "club" against whom she competed on behalf of a wire service whose mantra was "Get it first but get it right." She made a point of doing both.
Bobbie UlrichBobbie Ulrich fulfilled a mentor role in building journalistic skills in a nurturing way

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 a 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 part of two days together a few years ago 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 journalistic contributions.

Our time together then included sitting on a couch enjoying martinis and reminiscing at a gathering at WSU president Kirk Schultz's home to celebrate Bobbie and other honorees at the 10th Anniversary of the Hall of Achievement Ceremony,

I've told friends and acquaintances that Bobbie was largely responsible for the key steps on my career path, at least the UPI two decades that preceded my business journalism focus.

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 roles in Pacific Northwest, then Southern California as an executive overseeing UPI business in those regions.

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

One of my favorite stories to indicate what kind of a take-no-prisoners competitor she was came when she went to cover a WSU football game. Bobbie covered college football games at a time sports writers were reluctant to have a woman in the press box.

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

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.

We haven't visited lately, but Bobbie is among those who get the Harp.

Now to mom, whom I wrote about last Mother's Day, reflecting on the woman I referred to as a "boys' mom," not merely because of her three sons but also because of the mothering she did for other boys, including eventual grandsons, nearly right up to her death in 2004 at the age of 82.

So I won't repeat that column, other than what some who read it told me was the most compelling part.

That was about her being pretty hard-nosed about teaching us to be the best we could be. Thus, on several occasions, when I was seven or eight years old, and I'd come home crying from having been in a fistfight with neighborhood kids, she'd march me back to the scene and force me to have a proper fistfight with the offending kid.
 
I can't remember ever losing one of those fistfights. Even on the occasion when I begged tearfully: "But mom, there are two of them!" She marched me back anyway and made the bigger kid stand aside until I had sent his pal home crying after our fight, then she motioned him to step in and get his due.

Even from the perspective of now almost eight decades, I still view that "battlefield education" by my mother as a remarkable, perhaps even unique, chapter in my early development. And many who have heard the story have remarked cryptically: "That explains a lot, Flynn."

So the lessons of both helped prepare me for how to recognize the woman who should be my wife. So I met Betsy in math class at Gonzaga as I returned to school after time in the U.S. Marines picked her out and sat behind her to get to know her. She turned out to be the one.

The final Women's History note with reference to contributions to my history is, of course, reserved for Betsy when I had an opportunity to publicly acknowledge her role as I was inducted into the Puget Sound Business Hall of Fame a decade ago.

Inducted as Hall of Fame laureates with me were retired Alaska Airlines CEO Bill Ayer and Venture firm Cable & Howse founders Elwood (Woody) Howse and Tom Cable, and as it came to my turn to speak, I asked the four wives to stand and be recognized.

So as Betsy, along with Pam Ayer, Ginger Howse, and Barbara Cable stood, I shared with the audience that these were the only wives that any of the four of us ever had, and Betsy and the other three needed to be recognized as the key reasons why we four were there to be honored that evening.
 
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Reflections on Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential campaign: western primary voters wanted someone else

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Awaiting the next word on Jimmy Carter, the 98-year-old former president now in hospice care at his Georgia home, may stir some reflection on his 1976 campaign when voters in western states’ primaries all wanted someone else to be the Democratic standard bearer.

And Sen. Henry M. Jackson of Washington was actually the favorite to win the nomination when the’76 campaign for president began. It was a role Jackson might already have held had the script of fate been written differently 16 years earlier.

The challenge in the West for the former Georgia governor wasn’t that his disarming “Hi, my name is Jimmy Carter and I’m running for President” didn’t sell as well with western voters as with those in other parts of the country. Rather it was that 1976 was a year of western favorite sons or favorite sons of neighbor states.

In fact, two of the favorite sons, Sen. Frank Church of Idaho and Rep. Mo Udall of Arizona, were considered to be in the running, along with Carter, through the primary election season and collected delegates at the party’s national convention.

Jimmy CarterJIMMY CARTER'S 1976 quest for the presidency found a challenge with western primary votersChurch and Udall were longtime opponents of the Vietnam War with Church’s opposition dating back to 1963, well before the escalation began under Lyndon Johnson. The opposition was part of the Church’s criticism of American policy in Southeast Asia.

And though the final day of the war had been in 1975, the campaigns of most presidential hopefuls had begun by then and its political impact on the electorate still echoed into 1976.

The other favorite son was California Gov. Jerry Brown, then only two years into his first term as California chief executive, who won both his state’s primary and the Nevada primary.

Udall, who won the Arizona caucuses, finished second to Carter in the delegate contest at the Democratic National Convention and Brown third. Church won Idaho, Montana, and, in an upset, Oregon.

Jackson was a long-prominent Senate Democrat, including having been chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1960 and had been on the short, short list for the vice presidential role with John F. Kennedy before JFK decided to pick Lyndon Johnson because of his Texas and southern ties. Thus Jackson might have already been president before 1976.

Jackson’s appeal rested on his political beliefs that were characterized by support of civil rights, human rights, and safeguarding the environment. He was one of the few members of Congress who sent his children to D.C. public schools.

But his equally strong commitment to oppose totalitarianism in general and communism in particular and support for the Vietnam War as the focus of his campaign against communism brought a hostile reception from the party’s left wing.

Jackson’s run for president in 1972 drew little support but by the time of the 1976 campaign, he was viewed as the frontrunner. He received substantial financial support from Jewish Americans who admired his pro-Israel views.

Henry M JacksonHENRY M. JACKSON was actually favored to win the Democratic nomination when the 1976 presidential campaign beganUltimately, Jackson’s decision not to compete in the early Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary spelled doom for his presidential aspirations as Carter took the largest percentage of caucus votes in Iowa and won the New Hampshire primary over four other candidates.

Jackson won the Massachusetts primary but after losing the key Pennsylvania primary to Carter by 12 points, he dropped out of the race.

I had the chance to help cover the 1976 Oregon primary for United Press International as a political reporter and so had the opportunity to see Carter, Church, and Brown on the campaign trail in that state.

One of my favorite memories from my political writer days was when I was sent to the Portland airport to interview Church as he arrived on election night, with returns showing he was on the way to a substantial victory over Carter.

So as I walked up to a smiling Church as he walked from his plane to the airport, introduced myself and asked: “So, are you going to be viewed, senator, as the new “Lion of Idaho?”

The question was a reference to Sen. William Borah, who was affectionately, and widely, known as “The Lion of Idaho” during his 33 years in the Senate, elected in 1907 as a Republican and establishing himself as a prominent progressive with fiery independence.

“I’d be fine with that,” Church responded with a smile, “as long as I don’t also become known as "'the stallion of Idaho,’”: apparently an amused reference to a lesser-known aspect of Borah’s reputation.

Despite losing the western primaries and caucuses, Carter went on to win the nomination and defeat Gerald Ford in the 1976 general election and become the nation’s 39th president. And it was losing four years later to Ronald Reagan that the door was opened in his post-presidential decades to become known for a life of service, which will be his lasting legacy.

Jackson died on September 1, 1983, of an aortic aneurysm at the age of 71, in his 30 in the Senate.
Jackson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984. President Ronald Reagan called him "one of the greatest lawmakers of our century.”

And as a closing note, it’s difficult for a one-time political writer not to offer the following observation: For a man with Carter’s experience and background to defeat three highly respected and qualified members of Congress like Jackson, Church, and Udall is an indication of the role of timing and circumstance in fate's scripting.

But the important role Carter came to play after his single term as president may be taken as evidence that fate, in whatever form, does have a plan.

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Our Mayberry aims to bring causes and businesses that want to support them together

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Our Mayberry, a Bellevue-based company with an online platform that brings causes and businesses together to create a unique marketplace, has emerged at a critical time for non-profits and is proving itself in a new attack-hunger program with Seattle-area Rotary clubs.

Two recent developments have set the stage for the emergence of a company like Our Mayberry, coincidentally at a time when AmazonSmile, the decade-old program to donate half of one percent of Amazon purchases to charities, is being shuttered.

As co-founder and CEO Shawn Tacey explains it: “we’ve moved into the era of belief-driven marketing where businesses share their beliefs and causes in their marketing.

“But the internet and social media have also brought us to the era of surveillance capitalism, a term derived from Harvard Business School. I concluded that Internet 2.0 companies were using technology to isolate, manipulate, and ultimately automate humans and their behavior,” he said.

For Tacey, 53, a Bellevue attorney who has moved to Phoenix, the goal was to foster belief-driven marketing and push back against surveillance capitalism by imagining a community where neighbors cared about neighbors.

So the place that came to mind was the imaginary television town where neighbors cared about neighbors enough that Otis, the town drunk, could even check himself into jail at night and out in the morning while being treated with dignity and respect by Andy and Barney. Andy Griffith’s Mayberry.

Thus was born Our Mayberry as a platform that could help create that neighborhood, where businesses could care for community needs through the nonprofits that were at work meeting those community needs.

Our Mayberry was founded in 2018 and Tacey and his team, including co-founder and chief technology officer Chris Nakea, spent a year and a half working on various pilots and testing groups to get the alpha product released.

Nakea, 59, the builder and architect of the Our Mayberry platform, summarized the company’s purpose as “giving consumers the tools to take nonprofits out of having to beg for money.”


CEO Shawn TaceyCEO Shawn Tacey's goal was to foster belief-driven marketing and push back against surveillance capitalism


The company was prepared to launch in the spring of 2020 in Sioux Falls, SD, which had what Tacey called “significant ‘community capital’ and reminded him of Mayberry and, Tucson, AZ.

COVID put those launch plans on hold so the company went to work on contactless payment systems to use the Our Mayberry platform and by June of 2021, as Tacey was preparing for a major business event in Moscow, ID, to collect businesses in that area, he got COVID.

And that June 2021 experience threatened to end the company for a time as COVID threatened to take Tacey, who recalls being hospitalized and in ICU with pneumonia in both lungs, being placed on a ventilator, and in a drug-induced coma for five and a half weeks.

“I lost 80 pounds, suffered hemothorax in both lungs, sepsis twice, and was written off for dead,” he recalls. “On August 7 I woke up and started breathing on my own though my diaphragm had atrophied to less than one percent functionality.”

What followed was his comeback, which included another drug-induced coma and tracheotomy, and an x-ray of his lungs “that showed miraculously all the damage preciously indicated was gone, including zero scar tissue.”

Chris NakeaFollowing rehab, he’s been working on his physical recovery ever since, noting “I have been blessed to have use of my body, be off oxygen and be able to lead Our Mayberry in its vision and purpose.”
 
CTO Chris Nakea:
'We're giving consumers the tools to take nonprofits out of having to beg for money.'

The company’s opportunity now, with Tacey back at the helm and the business hunt well underway again, is not just the end of AmazonSmile, of which Tacey remarked “Amazon used it more as a gimmick while we use e-commerce for charity as a lifestyle.”

Also providing opportunity is the crisis of confidence and integrity facing many non-profits, such as the recent disclosures about Russell Wilson’s foundation and its use of funds and CVS, the pharmaceutical giant, using customer donations to fund the company’s charitable commitment.

The company is particularly excited about the Rotary fight-hunger campaign and its broad-based visibility.

“The Our Mayberry team and our community of partners are excited to come together in the fight against hunger with Rotary in Western Washington and plan to make this an annual event,” said Nakea.

I first met Nakea, a native Hawaiian, about 15 years ago, incidentally when I was doing some consulting for Enterprise Honolulu and we became friends but hadn’t been in contact for years until he reached out to me about Our Mayberry.

In summing up what lies ahead, Tacey said: “This company has overcome extraordinary adversity by the conviction and enduring belief of our team and investors that we are revolutionizing charitable giving and investing in ideas that benefits humanity.”
 
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If Gov. Jay Inslee decides to seek a fourth term, climate tax on gasoline could prove to be an issue

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Gov. Jay Inslee hasn’t indicated publicly whether or not he will seek an unprecedented fourth term. But on the issue he hopes will be his legacy, he may have sidestepped a negative public reaction that might have tempted one of the three Democrats waiting in the wings to decide it’s time to help him step aside.

It’s fair for Inslee to say he is a national leader on the issues of climate change and clean energy since he gained national visibility in what turned out to be a quick-exit run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 with climate as his sole issue.
But his website goes farther in what some may view as a bit of a stretch by saying he is “known as the greenest governor in the country.”

As an amusing note, Inslee actually owes a bit of thanks to the oil-producing countries of whose product he’s not a fan. The reason is that the latest dramatic decline in the last half of 2022 in the price per barrel of oil from $122 in June to $80 in January took the sting out of a January doubling of the state tax on the per-gallon price of gasoline.

The “sting” was a boost of 49.4 cents per gallon in the price of gasoline at the pump, and 59 cents on the cost per gallon of diesel fuel. That represented a doubling of the tax rate of 49.4 to 50.4 and it took more than a century to reach a tax first implemented in 2021.

But given that decline in price per gallon, which stood at $5.55 as the average in this state in June, likely exceeded the 49 cents for gasoline and 59 cents for diesel price additions in January, there was nothing for voters to react to. Certainly not how they likely might have if the new taxes had pushed the per-gallon gas cost in this state to over $6 per gallon.

WA Giv. Jay InsleeeGov. Jay Inslee's carbon tax could be an issue if he decides to seek a fourth term


What went into effect on January 1 was a result of the Climate Commitment Act passed by the Legislature in 2021 and the related cap-and-trade program to cut carbon emissions.

At its core, the program is designed to cap, or limit, greenhouse gas emissions to 25,000 metric tons and allows those industries or companies that exceed that amount to purchase “emission allowances” to offset 6 percent of carbon emissions.

The Act directed the Department of Ecology to develop and implement a “Cap and Invest” program to raise the penalty for exceeding the 25,000 metric ton allowance to $58.21, an amount that, incidentally, is much higher than the estimate used by the legislation.

Thereby hangs the tale of a 49-cent or 59-cent increase at the pump. The global oil price decline allowed the tax to go into effect basically unnoticed rather than being an issue to stir the political pot.
 
The intent of Inslee’s program is to penalize industries that historically are heavy emitters of greenhouse gas emissions to force them to reduce their emissions to save the planet.
 
But critics say the reality is that when the oil-producing nations send the price back up, it means the state’s new carbon tax will leave Main Street burdened by yet an additional cost for nearly everything that is delivered. Transportation of any goods will now require what amounts to a gas tax disguised as a carbon tax.
 
And if an increase from oil producers occurs between now and the 2024 state elections and the reality hits voters that the state tax on gasoline will continue to rise until 2030 with the goal of a total increase per gallon of 80 cents, voter reactions may be interesting.
 
And lest there be any doubt that those who pay the gas seller's fee will be passing on the tax, despite state officials' suggesting otherwise, the memo from a Kittitas County petroleum dealer should make it clear,
 
The note to customers of A-1 Petroleum and Propane spelled out the added cost per gallon for each type of fuel and then noted “our neighbors in Oregon and Idaho have seen significantly lower prices at the pump since January 1.”
 
“If those costs concern you,” the memo concluded, “please reach out to your local and state representatives.”
 
As to the Democrats waiting in the wings hoping that Inslee ultimately decides that, having just turned 70, it may be time to leave the governor’s office rather than pursue a record fourth term, it’s pretty sure that one of them would replace him.
 
The reality is that with the next election, it will have been 44 years since a Republican was elected the state’s executive, and none seems to have emerged to challenge in the 2024 election.
 
So if history holds, it would mean that three-term Attorney General Robert Ferguson, 57, Four-term King County Executive Dow Constantine, 61, or Lt, Gov, Dennis Heck, 70, would replace Inslee.
 
And many Democratic leaders might offer candidly that they’d like to see one of the three take charge of the state for the rest of this decade, bringing a focus on other issues while continuing Inslee’s climate focus, which is now part of this state’s political culture.

I asked the state’s most respected political pollster, H. Stuart Elway, if Inslee could be successfully challenged in the unlikely event any of the three Democrats would run against him if he does decide to run again. He indicated that would be unlikely
 
Elway said that while Inslee’s approval rating has long been “underwater,” meaning fewer than 50 percent of voters approve of his performance, “it’s been constant,” meaning he’s done little to irritate voters nor much to make them enthusiastic.
 
But most tellingly, Elway said that among Democrats, 62 percent would support him if he runs for a fourth term, though at this point they haven’t seen any other candidate.

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The story of two boy baseball fans whose business success led them own their hometown teams

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The story of two boy baseball fans whose business success led them to own their hometown teams

The tale of two boys whose fathers took them to watch their hometown baseball teams and who grew up to be iconically successful in business and thus were able to become owners of those hometown teams could be the most heart-warming story in all of sports.

Except for the story of John Stanton, majority owner of the Seattle Mariners, and Mikal Thomsen, majority owner of the Tacoma Rainiers, and life-long business partners, isn’t a story that’s well known in detail. And it needs to be.

So before a luncheon audience at the Columbia tower club this week, Stanton and Thomsen fielded questions and shared stories and memories.

I told them, at the outset, that we’d be doing a three-part interview. First, their memories are tied to attending games with their fathers and their youthful affection for their Tacoma and Seattle teams.

Then recollections of their days as early hires of McCaw Cellular Communications, much of whose story is the lore of a company that Craig McCaw, with a key assist from Stanton and Thomsen, built over the course of the 1980s into a major player in the cellular industry.

Then their ability to become owners, in Stanton’s case, the Mariners, of which he eventually became majority owner and CEO, and in Thomsen’s case, the Tacoma Rainiers, which Thomsen described again, as he did for me in an interview a few years ago, as “a dream come true.”

Thomsen’s childhood recollections began when his father took him, as a three-year-old, to see a triple-A team play its first game in more than half a century in Tacoma. That was the first of many.

That ignited a life-long affection of a kid, then a man, for his hometown baseball team.
John Stanton (L) and Mikal Thomsen (R)

And thus, although he grew up to make his name and fortune over two decades as he became a leading figure in the cellular-mobile phone industry, Thomsen's "dream come true" is played out each year as CEO and, with his wife, Lynn, the major investor in the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.

And Stanton’s recollections were mostly of being a teenager going with his dad to see the Seattle Pilots in their lone season, 1969, before “a used-car salesman named Bud Selig moved the team to Milwaukee and became the brewers.” He recalled he cried when they moved.

I spent most of the interview tapping their recollections about being early hires of McCaw Cellular, both in their twenties in the early ‘80s.

Stanton, who was McCaw’s first hire and was soon vice chair of the company, and Thomsen, who joined McCaw soon after, became leaders of that emerging industry. And they met their wives there. Theresa Gillespie, chief financial officer at McCaw, and Lynn, who was a paralegal running stock options and handling board relations.

McCaw was really born as a cable business but, with the entrepreneurial instincts of its people, came along at just the right time with the break-up of AT&T ordered by federal court degree in 1982 and completed in 1984 with the creation of seven “baby bells.”

John Stanton and Mikal ThomsenJohn Stanton (L) and Mikal Thomsen (R)The opportunity for McCaw was in the federal designation of 734 markets, including 428 rural ones, where newly formed wireless carriers like McCaw could apply for and buy spectrum licenses to service those areas.

By the late 1980s, Stanton had focused on the opportunities created by those hundreds of rural licenses, many of which were being returned to the FCCs by those who had applied to provide service, and pitched Craig on going after them.

But Craig made it clear he was too immersed in the metro-area opportunities and urged Stanton to go do that if he wished, so Stanton Communications was born, and a two-decade story of wireless success followed.

First was co-founding Pacific Northwest Cellular with Theresa and Thomsen in 1992, then the founding of Western Wireless, of which Thomsen became president, and the birthing of VoiceStream, which was later sold to Deutche-Telecom. That became T-Mobile, whose name is now on the stadium as the Home of the Mariners.

During our question and answer, it was clear that the audience wanted to focus mostly on their baseball ownership, which brought early indication of the financial role his wife, Terry, has played in Stanton operations.

Stanton recalled when the local Mariner ownership was being put together in 1991; he really wanted to be among those owners. But he noted that Theresa advised “no way.”

“She pointed out we were dipping into our own account every two weeks to make the Western wireless payroll,” then 100 employees.

In 2001 Stanton bought out John McCaw’s small ownership share. In August 2016, he led a group of minority owners to buy out Nintendo’s ownership and became the majority owner and CEO.

Reminded that the name Rainiers had belonged to the Seattle Triple-A team before the Mariners arrived, Thomsen offered with a smile, “yes, but they were named after a beer, and our team is named after a mountain.”

The audience questions clarified the obligation both Stanton and Thomsen feel toward their communities and the role their businesses are expected to play.

When Stanton was asked about how he feels when criticism is directed toward him about a Mariners issue or decision, he said: “The worst thing that could happen to us is if people no longer cared. And criticism of our decisions means people care.”

“We have to care about our community, and that means we have to have a role in addressing community issues and challenges,” he added.

Putting an exclamation mark on that comment was the fact that attendees included Sharon Mooers, senior director of philanthropy for Year Up Puget Sound, which came into existence in Stanton’s office in 2011.

He’s been a key supporter and is chair of the organization whose mission is to "close the Opportunity Divide by ensuring that young adults gain the skills, experiences, and support" leading to careers or into higher education.
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Alaska Airlines' 15th Fantasy Flight Saturday from Spokane to Santa 'Displays basic goodness of people'

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“This Fantasy Flight experience always resets my faith in humanity,” said Eric Hrivnak, the pilot who usually is at the controls of Alaska Airlines’ annual flight from Spokane’s airport to the North Pole with a 737-900 filled with needy kids, and their elves, to visit Santa Clause.

The 15th year of Alaska Airlines’ Fantasy Flight, with this year’s flight taking place Saturday, December 10, with 61 orphans and foster kids and 108 elves aboard, got a special Seattle airing before a Columbia Tower Club audience at an interview with the “elf” who has guided the event for 22 years and two key Alaska employees.

For the Club members and guests on hand last Wednesday to hear from Steve Paul, known as Elf Bernie for this event, and pilot Hrivnak and cabin attendant Carole Scallon, it was a heart-warming experience to hear about what all three described as “the basic goodness of people.”

Or as Hrivnak described it to me before the luncheon interview: “Seeing this incredible group of volunteers help these children experience Christmas makes you believe in Santa Clause.”

“The basic goodness of people” and “faith in humanity” are, unfortunately, phrases that are less likely to come to mind these days. That makes the event all the more important to the adults who make it possible and those who hear of it as to the kids, four to 10, who experience it.

Scallon has actually been involved in the Fantasy Flight since before Alaska became the participating airline in 2008, replacing United, which merely filled one of its Spokane planes and taxied around the airport.

She was aboard in that 2008 initial Alaska Fantasy Flight but told me “before Alaska took over from United, I helped my niece, who was a United Flight attendant.”

“This opportunity has been a gift to me,” she added. “A chance to give back. And I love being with the children laughing, dancing and having fun.”

<B>Pilot Eric Hrivnak - </B> <I>Pilot Eric Hrivnak - "It makes you believe in Santa Claus."United Airlines actually did the fantasy trip from 1999 to 2007 but it was a commitment of the local United team rather than the company itself, with United’s Spokane team corralling an airliner overnighting in Spokane. But because there was no provision for the “flight” to carry the kids aloft, the plane taxied around and stopped at a hangar for the Santa visit.
 
It was while he was traveling for Itron, the Spokane-based global energy and water management company, that Paul saw a poster at the airport promoting United’s “flight” in 2000, and with that, he was hooked and thereafter took charge of overseeing all the planning and resolving the challenges.
 
He was asked to step into a leadership role in 2006, and his first crisis came as they prepared for the 2007 flight only to learn that United had no planes available in Spokane. So he recalled, “we had to revert to school buses on the field surrounded by emergency escorts with flashing lights. Actually, it worked because all the windows were fogged up, and the flashing lights as we headed to the North Pole made it very magical.”
 
“After the 2007 problem, I reached out to United about more of a commitment, including a plan for a plane and a flight,” Paul said. “They had no interest. The Fantasy Flight leadership approached Southwest. They had no interest either.”
 
“My neighbor knew some people in Alaska’s marketing department, and when I reached out, they were enthusiastic about providing a plane and crew and were quick to say, ‘of course, we can take off.’”

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

<B>Steve Paul, a/k/a Steve Paul, a/k/a "Elf Bernie," has guided the event for 22 years.For longtime readers of The Harp, this story will be familiar because I’ve written of it in each of the past dozen years, since I first learned of it from my friend, Blythe Thimsen, then a Spokane magazine editor who wrote a story on her experience being an elf.

I’ve come to describe the spirit that settles over all those involved as the Magic Dust of Christmas Caring. That magic dust is evidenced by the Spokane residents who help prepare for months for the flight, the businesses that donate all the products that make the event happen, and the Alaska employees who participate as crew and elves. And the airline itself for making its now 15-year commitment to plane, crew, and a large slice of the caring.
 
Once the flight unloads the children and the elves at the North Pole, it comes time for each child’s personal visit with Santa, who will have received their lists ahead of time. A gift will be selected for each from their lists so Santa can reach into his sack and say, “I got your list. Look here!”

And when I asked Hrivnak for some of his memories of the children and Santa, he left a few dry eyes in the Tower Club audience. So the rest of this column belongs to him in his notes to me:

"2011 was the first time I was involved with this charity.  I picked up the 'turn,' which is a single, one-day trip.  I was just looking for a little extra Christmas money.  A day prior to the turn, I received an email stating I would be flying the Spokane Fantasy Flight for 60 children. I was not sure what this was about, but I knew it was related to Christmas. (Thankfully, I at least had a Santa tie.)
 
On the way over to Spokane, Carole briefed me on the flight.  I decided to come up with a flight profile that would be entertaining for the kids.

Alaska Christmas Flight 3Flight attendant Carole Scallon - 'This opportunity has been a gift to me'After experiencing the 'North Pole for the first time, I was hooked and knew I had to be involved with this charity.  It was a life-altering experience that made me thankful for how good my life was from being a professional Pilot.  I felt a duty to give these kids the proper experience of flight.
 
The following year, I learned how to work with the kids before the flight.  I gave them red and green beads from Carole, signed their passports, and asked them about their flight experience.  I’d make sure to help the ones that are really nervous about flying. For most of the children on this flight, it is their first time in a real airplane.
 
Since 2011, I have flown this Fantasy Flight eight times as a First Officer and once as a Captain.  Each time, there was a story that affected me from a touching moment of the day.

  • - The 'Elf' counselor who needed a few minutes to cry in the first class LAV, because this flight was the first time she saw her child smile.
  • - The 10-year-old girl who wanted to return the ornament with her name on it, because she never had a Christmas tree before to hang an ornament.
  • - The little girl with pigtails who told Santa, 'there’s no way you have a bike for me; that would be too much.'  Santa directed her to look behind a Christmas tree. She found a new bike with her name on it.  Her excitement and joy from that bike brought tears to us watching.
  • - The kids at the North Pole tossing the fake snowballs at everyone that Carol had provided.
  • - Seeing the kids get fitted for new winter boots.
  • - Watching the kids snuggle in their new blankets during the last event of the evening, listening to Mrs. Claus read Polar Express.” 

There used to be other airlines that did Christmas flights to one extent or another for needy kids, but 2020 halted all. And a search in preparation for this column didn’t turn up any such holiday trips, an indication that Alaska, which resumed the flight in 2021, is now alone in providing this annual trip for children.

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Three 'women of influence' in Cle Elum could compete with any for their focus on the region, and the planet

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The quality of female leadership that has emerged and, in some respects, become the norm atop business and civic ranks in the Puget Sound area was on display again recently with the Business Journal’s 16th annual Women of Influence event.

But it has become clear that female leadership talent is not limited to the Puget Sound area and thus should be celebrated more widely until it becomes obviously unnecessary to even single out women for recognition.

That lead-in is by way of setting the stage to introduce a trio of influential women in the Upper Kittitas community of Cle Elum, each of whom could compete for recognition on at least even terms with any female, or male, leaders anywhere in the state and beyond.

Here is a look at the three: Lynn Brewer, Patricia Galloway, and Cheri Marusa, all of whom I’ve come to know and respect over more years than they or I wish to count. And each of whom I have written about in previous columns.

Brewer first made a name for herself as an Enron whistleblower, became an in-demand speaker, and wrote a book about what happened at the Houston energy giant that was a Wall Street darling until, in 2001, it became the largest corporate bankruptcy ever to that time.

After that, she sought to create businesses to track corporate and government conduct and ethical behavior. That included, as COVID swept across the state in 2020, suing Gov. Jay Inslee for the ineptitude of his Employment Security Director over the unemployment compensation disaster that has never really been explained.

Now she’s on a quest to help save the planet with a campaign to make hemp growth a key method of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, including constructing hempcrete buildings.

As part of that initiative, she has created the Autonomous Climate Technology Ecosystem (ACTE), for which she has a patent pending.

Lynn Brewer topaz enhance faceai sharpenLynn Brewer - Focus on growing hemp to reduce carbon in the atmosphere.ACTE was invented as part of her effort to focus on hemp for climate crisis easing. ACTE, she explained, was created based on her days at Enron and her knowledge of trading carbon credits in the regulatory markets. The invention is designed to use technology to generate uniform carbon credit certificates.

She also has a partner from Ukraine, Sergiy Kovalenkov, who is a civil engineer who builds hempcrete homes, sequestering the carbon the hemp has absorbed for as long as the buildings last, basically a permanent removal of carbon from the atmosphere.
 
In September, Brewer harvested her first crop of industrial hemp, which grew to 18 feet from 52 acres in the town of Kittitas. It’s likely to be followed elsewhere in Washington and other states and nations with hemp crops.

The focus for Galloway, as with Brewer, extends beyond the state and the nation. Brewer has hemp projects on two continents and possibly a third, and Galloway may be the most prominent consultant globally in constructing nuclear power facilities.

Galloway recalls that, as a youngster, art was the love of her life, and she won several awards for her pencil sketches But when an engineer brought renderings of buildings done by engineers to her high school class since she frequently sketched buildings, her life was set on a different course.
 
She not only became a civil engineer, but in 2003 she served as the first woman President of the American Society of Civil Engineers. And she currently serves as an arbitrator on construction and energy litigation cases.

She is chair and former chief executive of Pegasus Global Holdings, an international management consulting firm that she and her late husband, Kris Nielsen, headquartered on their ranch northeast of Cle Elum. The company has representative offices in Australia, Brazil, and Japan.
 
She said her consulting engagements “typically involve megaprojects defined as more than $1 billion and are generally in the energy and infrastructure industries.”

Patricia Galloway Patricia Galloway - Globally prominent consultant on nuclear projectsGalloway is convinced a key to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stave off the worst effects of a warming planet” is a renewed focus on nuclear power.

“Given the upward trend of Greenhouse gas emissions, the limit of 1.5 degree Celsius of warming that the Paris Agreement hopes to achieve and attaining a net-zero economy by 2050, significant reductions in carbon emissions just isn’t possible without nuclear power,” she said. “Nuclear reactors have operated reliably and carbon-free for decades.”

She has also begun to focus on the advanced deployment of “smaller modular reactors (SMR) “ that she says have a lower output and a significantly smaller footprint.

“They can be factory built and assembled and will create new opportunities for co-location and distributed power generation as well as the answer to rural communities..”
 
As for Marusa, her focus is the growth and advancement of the Upper Kittitas County region, where she proudly proclaims herself a “fourth-generation Cle Elum housewife.”
 
In 1999 she emerged from that housewife-and-mother role with a campaign to bring enhanced emergency medical services to the Cle Elum area, founding Life Support. She has served as president since then and helped guide its dramatic impact on the Upper County.

I first met Marusa in 2003 when I was among a handful of Seattle-area business people she convinced to go on the board of her 501c3 Life Support organization.
 
As I wrote in an earlier column, she sought my advice on several occasions for her initiatives since then and paid little heed to my counsel of "Cheri, that simply isn't going to happen" and went on to make them happen.
 
Cherie Marusa Cherie Marusa - Face of citizen activism on behalf of her causes.The first of those unlikely successes for which I said "not gonna happen" related to Life Support when her lobbying on behalf of emergency medical services wound up with a $2.7 million legislative appropriation at a time of severe financial challenge for the lawmakers.

I had the same advice when she went after lawmakers for a $2 million plus grant for a Junior Achievement Center in Yakima to provide financial literacy programs for young people in a new JA learning center, a facility that the business community in Yakima supported with additional dollars.
 
Her persuasiveness with legislators to support her causes prompted House Speaker Frank Chopp to enlist her support, again as a volunteer, for his One Washington initiative, sending her on the road to visit communities and small towns in the central and eastern parts of the state to learn of issues challenging them.
 
Over the years, Marusa has become what I called in an earlier column the cause of causes. In addition to raising money for Life Support, she has launched programs to revitalize the town of Roslyn, bring big-city healthcare to the upper county and enhance student education programs across the area east of the cascades.
 
I suspect the influential impact of all three will be felt increasingly as the needs each of these women addresses come more to the fore.

And with a daughter, Meagan, who is now chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, and another, Eileen, who is a mother guiding the growth toward womanhood of three challenging daughters, enjoying watching women of influence is a personal as well as a professional benefit. And, of course, watching their mother, Betsy, whose successful influence they represent, as well as their brother, Michael, whose success professionally and as a father, he readily credits to the influence of his mother.
 
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CougsFirst! Focus on 'Cougs doing business with Cougs' sets WSU community apart from others

WSU
The greeting “GoCougs” shared by all in the Washington State University community, from staff, including President Kirk Schulz, to faculty, current students, and alums, likely sets WSU apart from the rest of academia.

When I think of “GoCougs,” which sometimes gets shared with me as a greeting because, despite being a Gonzaga grad, I’ve had various ties to the Pullman campus, I try to envision a universally shared Princeton greeting of “GoTigers” or a UCLA “GoBruins.” Or even the University of Oregon president greeting all with a “GoDucks!”

And thus, it’s not surprising that an organization apparently unique in the academic world has emerged and grown across the state and beyond called CougsFirst! It’s a business network that encourages WSU alumni and friends to interact with each other in a business environment.

CougsFirst! seeks to educate WSU alumni and friends about businesses owned, managed, and affiliated with WSU alumni and encourages Cougs to do business with those in the network.

“It’s about Cougs doing business with Cougs,” explained Seattle radio personality and podcaster Paul Casey, who was among the early supporters of CougsFirst!, which was formed In 2010. “We have about 300 in the network now but with 250,000 alums, who knows what the next level could be.”

A trade show, which was the idea of Coug-alum Debbie Nordstrom, attracted 45 to 50 exhibitors to the Bellevue Hyatt, and the idea has led to semi-annual trade shows where Coug-alum companies display their products and seek business.

Casey got involved first as a financial supporter by subsidizing a booth at the trade show and became a board member about four years ago.

Paul CaseySeattle radio personality
Paul Casey sees Cougs First!
as 'Cougs doing business with Cougs'
I used the word “unique” because, apparently, WSU is the only institution of higher ed where an administration, faculty, and alum group has come into being with the sole purpose of supporting companies and businesses created or run by alums.

The organization hired its first executive director last March, turning to a highly successful local Pullman business owner, Tony Poston, to guide the organization going forward.

Poston’s business began as College Hill Custom Threads focused on enticing students at various colleges to be College Hill reps to market merchandise on their campuses. The business, now simply College Hill, earned Poston inclusion in 2015 in the Inc 5000, the nation’s fastest-growing private companies.

His firm’s sales pitch is simply “If you’re a current, full-time college student with an entrepreneurial spirit, we’d love to meet you. You’ll work with organizations on your campus to select designs and merchandise for events and other marketing initiatives.”

Poston noted that, for the first time, next year’s spring trade show will include a career expo, bringing “hiring” into the “products and services” focus of the event, given the challenge that finding the right employees has become.

The organization was just struggling to survive when, a decade ago, prominent Seattle business owner and family-business supporter Howard S. Wright III, then a member of the board of governors of the WSU Foundation, leaped in.

Wright is a member of the iconic multi-generation Howard Wright Seattle family that, among other things, owns and operates the Space Needle. He is head of the Seattle Hospitality Group that he created 20 years ago and chairs today to support family businesses.

He recalls that he went to the late WSU President Elson Floyd and said, “we need to get behind this effort.”

So they did become key supporters of the effort, then being championed by Bellevue financial advisor Glenn Osterhout as the leader of the effort.

Intriguingly, Osterhout had already led the WSU part of an effort to convince the 2008 Legislature to turn down a proposal by the University of Washington to have the state provide $300 million of the $600 needed to refurbish Husky Stadium.

He enlisted the help of alum Mike Bernard, a Bellevue business tax advisor who was a member of the board and an officer of the Association of Washington Business, who told me “rallying Cougs to that effort to halt the stadium funding paid off.”

Perhaps, but before that legislature was even a month old, the lawmakers, guided by House Speaker Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, tossed cold water on the idea. Both evidenced concern as the recession that slammed home later that year was already showing signs of what was coming.

As Overhout, who had been WSU student body president, was seeking to get the CougsFirst! group underway soon after that, he turned to Bernard to join the launch team. That team also included Cougar football legend Jack Thompson, Rob Tobek, and Paul Dent, executives with USI Insurance, and mortgage banker Kyle Basler.

Schulz, who succeeded Floyd after his death from cancer in June of 2015 as WSU president, has been a strong supporter of CougsFirst!, providing an endorsement that Casey says is “vital to our organization.”

“It gives us instant credibility with any organization inside or outside of WSU,” Casey added.
Legendary 'Throwin' Samoan' Jack Thompson created Quarterback Golf Tournament in 2019

Mike BernardMike Bernard credits WSU alums' effort in 2008 legislative defeat of proposal for $300 million in state dollars for renovation of Husky StadiumSchulz explained his support, “CougsFirst! is taking engagement of alumni and friends with Washington State University to the next level. And it is building out a network of Coug leaders, entrepreneurs, business owners, and community leaders with one thing in common – supporting Washington State University.”

Thompson, nicknamed the Throwin’ Samoan for his Samoa roots, set an NCAA record for most passing yards in his 1978 senior season and was a founder of CougsFirst! He brought an annual Quarterbacks Classic golf tournament to the organization three years ago.

Thompson, now business development manager with Cross Country Mortgage, said more than two dozen former Cougar quarterbacks were on hand for the first event, which Drew Bledsoe and Mark Rypien helped organize,
 
Football fans will recall that Rypien and Bledsoe, like Thompson, had NFL careers following their WSU time, with Rypien guiding the Washington team to the Super Bowl title in 1992 and being named the game’s MVP.

The quarterbacks were not the only sports figures involved with CougsFirst! since Mikal Thomsen, majority owner of the Tacoma Rainiers, has been a member since the organization launched, And Casey is among the minority owners of the Tacoma franchise.
 
Perhaps amusingly, Casey thinks the organization's future may include helping other colleges and universities create similar organizations.
 
“We often get contacted by someone at another school asking how we put CougsFirst! together,” he said. “Our first inclination was to say ‘go to hell! Then some of us thought that maybe helping others could be a source of income.”
 
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Differing views on accountability as key to public safety highlight the race for prosecuting attorney

Port-of-Seattle
While the outcome of races here and around the country in which partisan politics at its most bitter is on display and attracting maximum voter attention, the most important contests may be eluding people’s attention.

 But that’s becoming hopefully unlikely for the King County Prosecuting Attorney race, where the ratcheting up of attention is evidenced by the major coverage in the Seattle Times Sunday and Monday on the two candidates and their views.

It’s not partisanship that’s at issue in the contest for the seat being vacated by retiring 15-year veteran Dan Satterberg, which hasn’t been an open race for more than four decades, but rather different versions of implementing criminal justice in the county.

One candidate is Leesa Manion, who currently runs the prosecutor’s Office as chief of staff while overseeing nearly 600 employees and a budget of $80 million. If elected, she would be the first female and first person of color to hold the job.Leesa MannonLeesa Mannon

 The other candidate is Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell, who spent 19 years in the prosecutor’s office after being recruited by longtime and highly respected late prosecutor Norm Maleng, before running for the Federal Way City Council. He then led the effort to switch to a strong mayor form of government and was later elected mayor of Federal way three times.

He believes that a change in direction is needed in the King County Prosecutor’s Office and that the status quo is not an option.

The prosecutor’s race was not on my radar until a few weeks ago when I visited with HomeStreet Bank Chairman and CEO Mark Mason, who has been touting Ferrell's candidacy. Mason has been high visibility about concerns for safety in the downtown Seattle area where the headquarters of his bank, a fixture on Seattle for 100 years, is located.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the deterioration of public safety in Seattle as our employees have experienced assaults and drug-abuse issues on public transit and on sidewalks on the way to work,” Mason said. “As a result, my employees are afraid to come to work.”

“As I sought to understand the drivers of the decline in public safety, I now know that the policies and mismanagement of the King County prosecutor’s office are significant contributors to the problem,” Mason added.

Now he’s seeking to get endorsements for Ferrell’s candidacy from as many business organizations and key individuals as possible.

Ferrell, incidentally, is an intriguing candidate in that he was a Republican, including running for a seat in the legislature, until he switched parties and has been a Democrat since 2012.

His explanation should endear him to moderates of both parties: “The GOP started moving too far to the right for my comfort,” he said, adding, "I think most voters in this election will be more concerned about my views on safety than on the fact I was once a Republican.”

Among those who have endorsed Ferrell is Mike Heavey, former state representative, state senator, and King County superior court judge. He’s since gained fame as the founder of Judges for Justice, a local organization with a national focus on seeking to free those who have been wrongfully imprisoned.

“Jim Ferrell is an excellent lawyer who was always mindful about public safety and holding offenders accountable,” said Heavey, in whose court Ferrell often appeared during his years as a deputy prosecutor, including five years under Satterberg’s leadership.

“But at the same time, he has a compassion toward the defendants as fellow human beings,” Heavey added.

And it’s the issue of holding offenders accountable vs. compassion toward them, particularly compassion toward defendants who are juveniles, that is likely to become a much more prominent issue dividing Ferrell and Mannion, and their supporters in the final weeks before the General Election.

Jim FerrellJim FerrellThe issue is called Restorative Community Pathway (RCP), a program created by the prosecutor’s office last November to offer diversion for young people involved in a range of felony crimes. These include organized retail theft, assault, residential burglary, and unlawful possession and display of a firearm.

Mayors of Kent, Auburn, and Renton in addition to Ferrell in Federal Way, have expressed concern with the program’s diversion of firearm crimes as their South County communities are experiencing record-high levels of gun violence.

The mayors collectively agreed they support restorative justice for simple misdemeanor crimes for first-time juvenile offenders, but “failure to prosecute felony crimes is taking King County in the wrong direction and is making our communities less safe.”

And they also express concern that they were neither consulted about nor made aware of the plan before it was put into place.

The race for prosecutor has already divided the mayors of the county’s communities and in several cities, the mayors from their police forces, most notably Bellevue.

Police guilds in Seattle, King County, Bellevue, Kent, Federal Way, and Des Moines have endorsed Ferrell. Bellevue Mayor Lynn Robinson has endorsed Mannion. But Bellevue is more complex in its key endorsements in the race, with city council member and former Bellevue mayor Conrad Lee and council member Jennifer Robertson having endorsed Ferrell.

Of her lack of endorsement from the police organizations around the county, Mannion makes that basically a badge of honor because of her helping establish the public integrity unit in the prosecutor’s office that reviews police use of force.
“The unit’s review would not appear fair and transparent if I am endorsed by police unions,” she told one media outlet.

But she does boast endorsements from Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, County Executive Dow Constantine, and former Gov. Gary Locke, as well as county council members Claudia Balducci and Sarah Perry.

Of the RCP program, Ferrell says, “deferrals are an important part of the criminal justice system when matched with the proper judicial oversight and accountability measures. The problem with the RCP program is it lacks both accountability and oversight. The serious felony crimes included in RCP are adult crimes and should be removed from the program.”

Supporters of RCP, if they actually hope to sell it to the public, should be in the lead of having outside research to evaluate its success or failure or outline possible changes going forward.

Those long involved in juvenile justice or in working with juvenile offenders will likely remember the late ‘70s documentary, “Scared Straight,” about a group of juvenile delinquents and their three-hour session with actual convicts.

The program was conceived by a group of inmates at Rahway State Prison in New Jersey, an inmate group known as the "lifers." They were shown berating and screaming at and terrifying the young offenders with four-letter words in an attempt to "scare them straight" so that the teenagers would avoid prison life.

Versions of the idea were picked up in other states and put in place over the course of the next two decades with little evaluation of their success.

 But an array of studies in the late ‘90s, including a report to Congress in 1997 and one by the prominent Pew Charitable Trust, concluded the programs “increased delinquency relative to doing nothing at all.” Several noted that “agencies that permit such programs must rigorously evaluate them.”

HomeStreet’s Mason made the unarguably legitimate point in an op-ed piece in the Business Journal that “any program that allows offenders to avoid charges for their crimes must come with accountability.” Since the county council approved the RCP program, voters should look first to the council members for an accountability program.
 
Maybe the King County program could be renamed “Coax Straight,” gentle treatment and guidance from various non-profits involved in a program for the juvenile offenders in the hope they won’t offend again.

During his deputy prosecutor days, Ferrell, incidentally earned lasting courthouse recognition for his actions when one defendant appearing in court broke away from his police guard and sprinted down the hall seeking to escape.

Farrell, an outside linebacker and special-teams player for the Huskies in the Don James era, sprinted down the hall after the escaping defendant, tackled him, and brought him back to court.
 
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