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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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Cantwell's role in CHIPS bill passage was a revival of the dying art of seeking bipartisanship

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The ability of members of Congress, either House or Senate, to work across the aisle to gather support from the other party for a proposal that requires bipartisanship to move toward final approval seemed to have become a dying art in this era of stark divisiveness between the parties.

Thus the ability of Maria Cantwell, Washington’s junior U.S. senator, demonstrated an across-the-aisle ability that was key to the passage and presidential signing of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 to subsidize U.S.-made semiconductor chips led to a rare but welcome act of bipartisanship. The so-called CHIPS bill passed the Senate with a 64 to 33 majority, with 17 Republicans voting in favor, and passed the House with a 243-187 vote, with 24 Republicans voting for the legislation.

In a place where feelings rather than facts frequently guide decision-making, since feelings, after all, are what politics is all about, Cantwell used facts to overcome the politics that were in play in the Senate Republican caucus after GOP minority leader Mitch McConnell told his side they were not to negotiate on the CHIPS bill.

With a comment that had amusing implications, perhaps, as Cantwell is looked to in seeking bipartisanship on future issues, she remarked, “The leadership politics just got in our way, and we just had to figure out a way around all that. And so we did.”

The “way around all that” was teaming with Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York to invite all 100 Senators to a classified briefing in a secure room on the national security imperative of passing a competition package before the August recess, a gathering that attracted about 60 Senators split equally along party lines. But she also credits Indiana Sen. Todd Young, who is completing his first term this fall, with his work on the Republican side of the aisle.
 
Cantwell had organized at least three previous classified briefings for members of the conference committee, but she wanted to hold one for all Senators to make a broader case for the legislation. The House held a similar all-members classified briefing on the legislation that week.

Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, and National Intelligence Director Avril Haines met with the Senators for nearly two hours, and the group of Senators reportedly asked 30 to 40 questions on the various national security implications of relying on chips made in China or Taiwan.

"Afterwards, I just remember members talking on the floor about it and saying, ‘Well if we can fall behind in one area, why can’t we fall behind in others?’ And so let’s get going,” Cantwell said.
 
“Today marks the start of the turnaround for U.S. chip manufacturing,” Cantwell remarked as the bill was signed. “More than a dozen companies are expected to make announcements in the next few months about expanding the chip supply chain in the United States,” she added.
 
“America wins, and workers win, and consumers win because every product dependent on semiconductors: cars, trucks, computers, phones, and farm equipment – will start to have a more reliable supply,” said Cantwell, who has chaired the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation since 2011, 11 years after she was elected to the Senate at the age of 42.
 
As the first woman to guide the important Senate committee, as well as being selected to co-chair the Senate Democrats’ new high-tech task force and earlier this year being named one of four “legislators of the year” by the Information Technology Industry Council, the lobbying arm of the high-tech industry, her leadership talents are being well recognized.
 
Maria CantwellMaria Cantwell found a way around leadership politics in getting across-the-aisle support for CHIPS semiconductor subsidyAnd an across-the-aisle leadership, as evidenced in the final steps on CHIPS would be a welcome re-emerged talent in the divisiveness-driven\ Congress.
 
In fact, one of her predecessors as Washington’s U.S. Senators was Warren G. Magnuson, who guided the Senate Commerce Committee for 22 years and was among the most respected members of what he liked to refer to as “the world’s most exclusive club” and he treated every member of his “club” as his friend.
 
Of course, your party must stay in control for 22 years to chair a committee for that long!
 
I’ve been a fan of Cantwell’s since I learned she was one of two Democrats among the eight votes against a measure called the America Invents Act proposed by President Barack Obama and supported by the vast majority of his Congressional Democrats. The measure, the first major change in patent law in decades, was touted as clearing the way for start-up and entrepreneurial innovation to find success against the tech giants by making first to file rather than first to use the new keystone of patent law.
 
Clearly, her high-tech background as an early employee and vice president of marketing at RealNetworks, a Seattle-based provider of artificial intelligence and computer vision-based products and an early pioneer in internet streaming-media delivery, gave her a unique understanding of the little guys’ tech struggle with the big guys.
 
I became aware of the act when I invested in a tiny company called VoIP-Pal, a penny stock company then based in Bellevue that had patents for most forms of voice-over-internet protocol, which by then had been, in essence, infringed upon by the major tech companies who were thus being sued by VoIP-Pal.
 
And the appeals board set up under the act could be, and was, composed of attorneys who had once been employed by one or another of the tech firms, Amazon, Verizon, T-Mobile, Twitter, or Apple, that were being sued for patent infringement.
 
So I began to search the background of the creation and passage of an act clearly doing the opposite of what it was promised to do.
 
As part of the research, I found a video clip of Cantwell giving a speech on the Senate floor in which she wound up with a heated comment: “This act is clearly favoring the big guy against the little guy,” explaining her “no” vote. In essence, leadership politics was getting in the way of doing the right thing.

A little-remembered example of her willingness to work across the aisle, even if it involved pushback against her leadership, was in May of 2010 when she joined 39 Republicans to block the Senate from ending debate on financial regulatory reform legislation, proving a “no” vote on the motion to proceed to a vote.
 
Despite the majority effort, Cantwell said she felt the bill, as it stood, failed to close loopholes in unregulated derivatives trading.
 
The bill then went back to the House, and as she recalls, “tough new rules on derivatives trading were added during conference negotiations.”

So now, as Cantwell is likely looked to for other cross-the-aisle initiatives, at least one comes to mind.

She promised some Senators concerned about the possibility of U.S. semiconductor manufacturers making investments in China or Taiwan for chip production that the CHIPS legislation provided “guardrails” allowing the government to “claw back” money if companies violate restrictions on investment in China. But it’s not unlikely that some subsequent legislation may be required to keep the companies on the straight and narrow.
 
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Lynn Brewer seeks to assist two crises, global warming and aiding Ukraine, with hemp growing

HempField

I’ve known Lynn Brewer to be a disruptive influence since I first met her two decades ago, soon after she had left the then-iconic energy company Enron and become an in-demand speaker on why she became a whistleblower before the Houston-based giant’s bankruptcy.

But it’s intriguing to see her attention now focused on the kind of disruptions that could bring the type of changes that would have a positive impact on the crisis of global warming as well as the more imminent crisis of helping restore a war-torn Ukraine.

First, the global crisis, where her current effort is for sure disruptive in a globally beneficial manner, for the creation of what she has named the Autonomous Climate Technology Ecosystem (ACTE), for which she has a patent pending. 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.
 
“The uniformity of the certificates automatically generated using artificial intelligence and other climate technology to quantify and qualify the carbon sequestered allows these certificates to be actively traded by Wall Street.”

She foresees the use of drones, satellites, and probes to detect carbon data from grassland, forestland, cropland, settlements, wetlands, and agricultural by-products derived from industrial hemp, like straw, corn, or any other agricultural waste, to allow anyone who owns or leases land to request carbon credit certificate.
Lynn BrewerLynn Brewer seeks to create focus on growing hemp to help fight global warming and related project to aid Ukraine's restoration
“Rather than clear-cutting the trees and receiving, for example, $200,000 for the timber, someone can keep the timber and sell carbon credits derived from the carbon dioxide sequestered in the trees and potentially receive more than $1,000,000 for the carbon credits,” she said.  
 
The patent is key to a multipart effort Brewer has found herself immersed in this year and is an initiative to draw this country in line with the rest of the world in the growing of hemp, a plant that grows to be 15-to-18 feet tall with the majority of the leaves and flowers being grown at the top.

The hemp plant, used by humans for about 10,000 years as a source of food and building material and at one point the most dominant cash crop on the American landscape, was made illegal in the late 1930s because the plant is the source of cannabinoids and THC and an anti-marijuana campaign across America in the ‘30s culminated with the plant being classified as illegal.

One of the uses of hemp fibers is in industrial products, including building blocks, basically called Hempcrete, that resemble concrete blocks for construction but are deemed to be carbon neutral because they sequester carbon.  

Growing hemp is a process already years in development in many parts of the world, promoted by the EU across Europe, but legalized in this country only four years ago after more than 80 years as an illegal plant because hemp and marijuana both come from the cannabis plant. The industrial hemp plant must contain less than .03 percent of THC under regulatory guidelines.

In those countries where building with hemp is well underway, including South Africa, two Cape Town businesses are partnering to expand a five-story building to 12 stories by adding levels constructed with blocks from Afrimat Hemp.

“Our hemp is like bamboo, growing tall shoots that are not allowed to produce more than .03 percent THC and is not smoked!” Brewer explained.

In fact, developments relating to her hemp-growing initiative have come in a rush this year, including her patent, which she says will revolutionize the way carbon credits are generated.

First was the planting of 52 acres of industrial hemp in the town of Kittitas, not many miles from her home in Easton. By the time of the first harvest in a month or so, the stalks will have grown to 18 feet or more.

Peter WhalenPeter Whalen will partner with a Ukrainian Hempcrete builder in the first veteran's rehab center to assist Ukraine orphan-refugeesThen this spring, she was appointed to the State's Task Force for the creation of a Hemp Commodity Commission, whose launch is an indication that there is a monetary future for growing the hemp plant that has only been legal since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

An indication that her work isn’t going unnoticed is that she received an invitation to compete for Elon Musk’s Carbon Removal X-Prize of $100 million for carbon removal innovation, which is what hemp does in spades, sequestering two to three metric tons of CO2 per acre in the soil and up to 6 tons per acre in the plant.

“And,” Brewer explained, “These amounts accumulate in 90 to 120 days in the hemp, whereas a forest takes a minimum of 10 years to have the same sequestering effect.”

Evidencing an intriguing perspective on the profit value of helping save the planet, Brewer told me: “Buying and selling carbon credits should be as easy as ordering a product off Amazon.com. And anyone should be able to purchase a carbon credit certificate, whether it is a company that needs to offset its greenhouse gas emissions, a trader interested in market speculation, a broker selling climate-risk hedges, a young adult who wants to invest in the carbon credit market, or a grandfather who wants to buy a carbon credit certificate for his newborn grandchild.”

Now the Ukraine aspect of her focus. Brewer has put together a strategic partnership with Peter J. Whalen, a veterans advocate I’ve also written about, and who is proposing that his Invictus Foundation build treatment Centers of Excellence across the country for veterans’ rehabilitation from traumatic brain injuries. He is looking to use his wounded-veteran status to bring federal funding to a project in Ukraine.

Brewer contacted Whalen, a Vietnam veteran, after reading my column on him and learned he had been approached by someone in Turkey who sought to partner with him for building projects in Ukraine using Whalen’s wounded-veteran status to gather available federal funds.

Turns out that people around the world are looking for ways to get their hands on some of the millions of U.S. dollars that will go to aid Ukraine’s restoration.

“Why should we work with turkeys rather than directly with people in Ukraine,” Brewer remembers joking to Whalen. And thereby hangs the opportunity for her to introduce a Ukrainian builder named Sergiy Kovalenkov as a sort of new American hero once he gets to be known, as he will, as a co-founder of the U.S. Hemp Builders Association and now at work on building a facility in Ukraine to house orphans and homeless victims of the war.

Completion of his facility requires another $230,000 that Brewer has committed herself to raise, telling me she hoped to find opportunities to get people to donate pennies, dimes, or dollars to be part of aiding the Ukrainians.

Kovelenko is a Kyiv civil engineer builder who built the first hempcrete home in Australia.

Brewer describes him with a chuckle as “looking like he just walked off the beach at Malibu.” He's been building hemp homes for a dozen years with his company, Hempire, and will help develop a hempcrete building for Whelan’s first veterans center, which he hopes to locate on a 200-acre spot near Orting that is owned by the state.

In addition, Kovalenkov will be Brewer’s technical advisor for her hemp farm and negotiate deals, as with the French company that manufactures the block-making machine that Swiftwater will use to manufacture hempcrete blocks to use in building hempcrete homes that are pest resistant, mold resistant and fire resistant.

Brewer said her Swiftwater SPC (social purpose corporation), which is a division of her Swiftwater Holdings, “will take an investment position” in Whalen’s first center with her hemp to come from the acreage in Kittitas “sufficient to manufacture enough hempcrete to build the 15,000 square foot center from the 52 acres grown this year.”

“And the 200 acres that Whalen’s Invictus Foundation brain trauma centers will sit on would be sufficient to grow, with an agricultural designation, hemp that will be used for building transitional housing for veterans, with the first target being veterans among Seattle’s homeless population,” Brewer said.

 
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Mariners owner John Stanton, 'first and foremost a fan,' excited about team's surge into All-Star break

Safeco-Field-Seattle-Mariners
As the Seattle Mariners commence the post-All-Star break half of a season that ended its first half with sizzling success unseen in this area for two-plus decades, analysts and sports writers struggled to determine what brought about the success of a team went from a disastrous season start to now the most interesting in all of Major League Baseball.

Certainly, watching the team’s commitment to victory as a group of young men and the emergence of a couple of all-star players who have been hits off the field as well as on have been satisfying for long-suffering fans.

But I think it’s equally interesting to catch the excitement of the guy who occupies the owner's box, seeing a team that is finally achieving what has (clearly) driven John Stanton since the direction of the franchise became his as owner six years ago, giving his community and its fans a winning team.

Stanton became the CEO and majority owner of the Mariners in April of 2016 after the ownership group he led completed its purchase of the Mariners from Nintendo of America, and later that summer, Major League Baseball formally approved the sale of the Mariners to Stanton.

John StantonJohn Stanton
Mariners owner John Stanton's site set on enjoying the second-half run as '...basically just a fan'
He had become an owner in 2010 with the purchase of the 10 percent that John McCaw had held since the original ownership group that was put together in 1992, headed by Nintendo of America, at a time when Stanton, a telecom innovator, and entrepreneur, wanted mightily to be involved as an owner but admitted he didn’t have the capital available to join the group at that time. He was launching Western Wireless and once told me he and his wife, Theresa Gillespie, were paying his 100-some employees out of their personal checking account.

Buying out one of the cellular-icon McCaw brothers was appropriate since Stanton had been the first hire for Craig McCaw in the mid-80s when he created McCaw Cellular and helped him grow the telecom company over the rest of that decade before leaving with Craig’s blessing to launch Western Wireless.

Over the next decade, Stanton’s leadership satisfied many shareholders of the wireless companies he created and guided.

Since I was among those shareholder beneficiaries, I offer a story I shared with Stanton 20 years ago about my wife and me deciding we had an interest in investing in wireless companies. So, we bought stock in Western Wireless in 1992 for $15 per share.

The shares grew in value into the $60s before Western Wireless spun off Voicestream Wireless, a subsidiary created in 1994, into a separate publicly traded company that was soon trading in the mid-80s, as I recall, making the Western Wireless and Voicestream shares together worth about $130.

When I visited Stanton at an event in the early 2000’s I told him, prompting a chuckle: “my wife and I burn incense each evening before your picture in thanks for the shares’ performance.”

Voicestrean Wireless, in fact, in 2002, was renamed T-Mobile as it became the Bellevue-based subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom and now has its name now on the Mariners’ domed stadium.

So now Stanton’s sights are focused on satisfying ticketholders, who apparently will be coming to T-Mobile Park in the coming days in stadium-filling numbers, reminding me of a quote I included in a pre-season column recalling that 1992 opening day and the new group of local owners that would save MLB for Seattle: “I am first and foremost a fan. I love the game and everything about it.”

Stanton told me in one of our interviews how he attended Seattle Pilots games as a 14-year-old watching his hometown team with his father in the team’s only year of existence and said he recalled crying when the Pilots left town for Milwaukee.

Now the Mariners, who brought a record of 22 wins in their last 25 games into this week’s All-Star break, head into the second half with a record of 51-42 and trail the Astros in the American League West by nine games.

Whether playoffs or further post-season activity lie ahead to remind Mariner fans and the communities the franchise serves of what the last playoff 21 years ago felt like remains to be seen.
 
There will be heroes who perform at the plate, in the field, and with their competitive zeal between now and October, and their efforts may restore memories of the achievements that long-time Mariner fans recall.
 
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Growing awareness of holistic healthcare guides natural medicine group's national initiative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

A similar initiative is underway in rural North Carolina.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Day Nixon met Elvis, published in 1974, was Krogh's other book, basically a picture journey through that day.
 
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Mariners Opening Day — memories of the '92 season when local ownership was assured

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Armstrong recalls "George never gets credit for this."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I told her "You are my company."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Would you rather be part of the industry that will create new instruments that people will be able to hold in their hand or would you want to be part of an industry whose role will be to help create a new hand?"
 
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Aggression in Ukraine ends 30-year ties between Washington State and Russia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I was glad no one was around to hear the four-letter words that spewed out," she chuckled.
 
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New indoor track and downtown stadium add logic to a vote for Spokane as 'Sports town USA'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The city merits that title and in fact, it will add to the growing attraction it has evidenced with potential new residents, including those from Seattle and the West Side, as well as California.
 
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Dan Evans' long-awaited autobiography offers more than reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Google & Big Tech — New accusations of antitrust, privacy and possible criminal conduct abound

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AA_Santa_banne_20211201-193055_1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Archival-video business would save messages for military families

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And one business person chuckled as he related an incident at the Canadian border as the border agent asked where he was from while looking at his driver's license. "Seattle," came the reply. "Then why does your license say Bellevue?"
 
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Prominent Athira investors remain strong supporters of ex-CEO Kawas

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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