State auditor deserves the appearance of innocence

April 29th, 2015 by Ken

Like you, I’m concerned about the charges against our state auditor Troy Kelley.

I don’t know if he’s innocent or guilty, but this rush to judgement on the part of our governor smacks of pure politics.  He has not been charged with any crime related to his job as state auditor.

Kelley doesn’t answer to the governor of this state.   He was elected by the people.   (I don’t think I voted for him, but I really can’t remember.)

We have a legal system in this state.   Let it work.

Then, if he’s found guilty, kick him out of office.

Until then – - let him run his office, take leave when he feels the need, and give him the appearance of innocence that all those charged with a crime have.

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Tumwater voters approve new taxes

April 29th, 2015 by Ken

By an overwhelming percentage, voters in Tumwater, approved an increase in the local sales tax to go for transportation projects in the city.

Preliminary election results show 68 percent of the voters approving a .02 percent increase in the local sales tax.

With only a few hundred votes left to be counted, the measure is sure of passage.

City officials in Lacey are looking at the results with interest.   They may recommend a similar move in Lacey although nothing will be decided in the near future.

The turnout for the Tumwater election was just 25 percent – - showing that mainly supporters voted for increased city taxes.

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Interesting times in Washington state

April 24th, 2015 by Ken

Next week, the Washington State Supreme Court is expecting a report on how well the Washington State Legislature has responded to its ruling in the McCleary case to fully fund education.

The court has threatened the legislature with legal action, if the court deems that insufficient progress has been made towards accomplishing the court’s ruling.

This could bring to the forefront the constant battle between the legislative and judicial branches of government.   We always hear about the conflicts between the executive and legislative branches, but seldom what goes on between the legislative and judicial.

Which brings me to a precedence regarding a conflict between the court and the executive.

In May 1830, President Andrew Jackson ordered the removal of all American indians living in the eastern part of the United States.  It’s better known as the Trail of Tears.

The United States Supreme Court ruled the removal illegal and order the president to stop.   President Jackson responded by saying something like – - how many armies does the Supreme Court have – - and went on to finish the removal.

What happens if the Washington State Legislature fails to meet the court’s ruling?   Will it provide more legal motions?  Will it call the State Patrol to arrest legislators?  Or, will some compromise be put in place?

For legal scholars and historians, this is an interesting time in Washington State.

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The WEA should be ashamed of itself

April 20th, 2015 by Ken

A statewide teacher’s strike is just another example of the Washington Education Associations (WEA) disdain and lack of concern for parents.

The WEA has called for a one-day teacher strike to bring pressure on the Washington State Legislature to fund lower class sizes for all grades as required by a union-initiative passed by the voters.   In doing so, the union hopes to show how seriously it takes the initiative.

But, in doing so, the union showed its lack of concern for parents.   Even state school superintendent Randy Dorn said that such an approach creates chaos in the family.

The union cares about teachers but less so for parents or students.   If the lower class size initiative and its $3 billion dollar tax bill is implemented, it will provide thousands of new teachers, new union members and new union dues.    Concern for parents is almost non-existent.

Parents already have to adjust their schedules to meet the needs of the union-required school calendar.  Schools have late start days, early release days, teacher in-service  days, conference weeks and professional days.

These days require that parents find day care for their kids.   Unscheduled changes – - like a teacher’s strike – - makes it difficult for parents to find such care and often forces them to miss a day of work.

Shame on the WEA and its lack of concern for parents.   It should be ashamed of itself.

Besides, a strike won’t make any difference in what the legislature does.    It’s just a show to demonstrate the power of the union.

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Commissioners won’t call for freeholders election

April 17th, 2015 by Ken

Thurston County commissioners will not call for a freeholder’s election.

That’s the assessment of former Secretary of State Sam Reed, who is a member of the Better Thurston organization.   He made those remarks at the Thursday meeting of the Lacey Rotary Club.

Reed said that commissioners are reluctant to call for a freeholder’s election to draft a new county charter because it could dilute their power and pay.

Instead, Better Thurston is in the process of starting an initiative campaign to force the commissioners to call for a freeholder’s election.   Under law, signatures from about 8000 registered voters in the county would force the commissioners to call for a freeholders vote.     Reed believes that number of signatures could be gathered by August, forcing an election in November.

Freeholders would be elected by commissioner districts – - perhaps five from each district.   This group would then draft a new county charter which would be placed before the voters for their approval.

More information on where you can sign the petition will be coming shortly.

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Seattle socialist Evergreen’s commencement speaker

April 14th, 2015 by Ken

Kshama Sawant,  a member of the Seattle City Council, has been selected as the commencement speaker for The Evergreen State College graduation ceremonies this spring.

She was selected by the students at the college.

According to her biography Sawant  “is an activist, organizer and socialist, and is a member of Socialist Alternative, in solidarity with the Committee for Worker’s International, which organizes for working-class interests on every continent. ”

According to her web page she accepts only workers wages and donates the rest of her six-figure Seattle City Council salary to building social justice movements.

(Editors note:   Sounds like an interesting speaker.   I’d like to hear what she has to say.)

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On taxes, museums and newspapers

April 13th, 2015 by Ken

Tumwater voters are deciding this week whether or not to raise their local sales tax to fund transportation projects in their city.  What the voters decide will go a long way to determining what the City of Lacey does in regards to its street programs.  If Tumwater voters approve the sales tax increase the Lacey City Council will be under pressure to put a similar measure on the city’s ballot.    If voters turn it down, Lacey will probably opt for a car tab tax of $20 like the City of Olympia has done.   Tumwater voters hold the future of Lacey tax increases in their hands.

It’s a crying shame that the City of Olympia doesn’t have a city history museum.  The capitol city has loads of history that is going unrecognized or unrecorded because it lacks the facilities to manage data collection.   What history material it has,  currently sits in the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma.   With the closure of the Capitol Museum it has become apparent that Olympia needs its own museum.  The Olympia Historical Society has joined with the Bigelow House Museum to act as the unofficial repository of the city’s history but that’s just temporary.   What Olympia needs is some group  willing to step up and create pressure on the Olympia City Council.   The council needs to understand that history is just as important as some of the projects it currently funds.

Have you notice a change in “The Olympian’s” editorial bent?   When George LeMasurier was working as the editorial page editor, the paper had a significant number of editorials on downtown Olympia.   Since Brad Shannon has taken over as editorial page editor, a significant number of editorials concerning the state legislature or legislative action has graced the pages of the paper.   That seems to follow, since Shannon covered the statehouse and state issues for the paper for many years.   I actually like the paper’s emphasis on state government.   The former bent towards downtown Olympia was becoming a little too predictable.

Speaking of “The Olympian”, a replacement for LeMasurier as publisher has still not been announced.   I’m certain that the paper will never again have its own publisher, but will share publishers with “The Tacoma News Tribune” its sister paper.  “The Olympian” has however, received a new executive editor.   Actually, she’s a retread.   It’s Dusti Demarest, who served as editor of the paper in the 90′s.    Titles, positions and job duties continue to morph and change at the newspaper in the last decade.   I’m not certain who does what – or what someone does – and titles don’t seem to mean much.  But I’m certain Demarest won’t change things much.



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No new athletic facilities for Evergreen

April 8th, 2015 by Ken

The Evergreen State College will not be getting new athletic facilities anytime soon.

Students at the college refused to raise their tuition rates to pay for some $25 million in new and reconditioned athletic facilities.

By a vote of more than 60 percent no – students rejected a $10 a college credit for updating and building new athletic facilities.  The money would have come from student activity funds.

Supporters of the proposal were disappointed but not particularly surprised.  Evergreen trustee Dave Nicandri said this current group of students have seen their tuition rates climb by more than 50 percent in the last few years.

“I think after we recycle this group through we may get a better response from the students later,” he said.

Supporters of new facilities said the current building no longer meets the needs of the students and extensive remodeling must be done in order to attract student use in greater numbers.

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No new county charter says commissioner Blake

April 3rd, 2015 by Ken

Thurston County Commissioner Bud Blake says he will not support a freeholder’s election to draft a new county charter.

Blake made those comments while speaking to the Hawks Prairie Rotary Club on Friday.

Blake said things are working well and Thurston County would have no need to look at a new county charter until 2022 – - when Blake said the county would have more than 300,000 residents.

Blake said a new county charter as proposed by the Better Thurston movement, would destabilize county government,  be too expensive, create another layer of government and cause grief for county residents.

The new county commissioner said that Southern Thurston County would be better served by increased efforts to bring business to the area.

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Roberts new fire commissioner

April 3rd, 2015 by Ken

Sylvia Roberts, a retired educator, has been selected as the newest member of the Lacey Fire Commission.    Her selection came Thursday evening in a split vote.

Commissioners Judy Wilson, Frank Kirkbride and Gene Dobry voted for Roberts.   By telephone, a sick Tom Nelson voted for David Morrison, who current works for the Port of Tacoma.

In making the motion to select Roberts, Kirkbride said her work in the Snohomish School District in getting community support for school levies would serve the fire district well.   “We’ve had trouble doing that in the past,” he said.

Kirkbride urged those not selected to become involved in the community through various citizen boards and commissions including the district’s citizen advisory committee.

Wilson said she was pleased with the overall quality of applicants.

Dobry said he, along with the rest of the commission, were moved by Robert’s story of her parents, who live in the fire district.   She said that the fire fighters and medics had responded to her family several times and that response gave her parents  the feeling of security they need to continue living in the Lacey Fire District.

While Nelson supported Morrison, he said Roberts was well-qualified and looked forward to working with her.

Roberts was not at the meeting, but was attending a candidates school put on by the Thurston County Auditor for prospective candidates this fall.

Roberts will have to file for her seat in May and run in the General Election this November for the unexpired term.

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New Lacey Fire Commissioner – Thursday

March 31st, 2015 by Ken

The Lacey Fire Commission will select its newest member at its Thursday meeting.

The five-member board has a vacancy due to the resignation of Dennis Jones in January for medical reasons.

The commission asked for applications of interested parties;  received nine applications;  interviewed  eight and selected three for future consideration.    One of those three will be selected Thursday evening to fill the unexpired vacancy.

According to selection chair Judy Wilson, no one has been selected, but three candidates are being considered.  “We won’t know who the choice will be  until the meeting,” she said.

Because the selection must be made in an open meeting, the four board members can’t meet and make the determination.   Although any two of them could talk about the best choice, Wilson is convinced that no one has done that.

The names of the final three are also not being made public.

“I’m just glad we had so many good qualified candidates to pick from,” Wilson said.

Whomever is selected will have to run for the position in the General Election in November if they want to keep the seat.  Filing starts in May.

The board will meet in regular session on April 2, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the fire district’s headquarters on Pacific Avenue.

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When is the right age – politically?

March 31st, 2015 by Ken

House bill 1458 will have its day in the legislature this week when we’ll see pure politics at work.

The bill raises the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The argument in favor of raising the age says that cigarette smoking is dangerous and that those under the age of 21 don’t have enough self-control not to start smoking.   Proponents say most people who smoke, start smoking when they’re 18.   (I started smoking at 13.)

In Washington, we can do a number of dangerous things at 18.   We can legally gamble.   We can sign contracts.  We can agree to have sex.    Even more frightening is we can drive a car at age 16 – - a very dangerous activity.   And lets not forget that we can join the military at age 17.

The only thing we can’t legally do in this state, until the age of 21,  is consume alcohol.

Using tobacco doesn’t come near to being as dangerous as most of those other activities.

Why raise the age to 21?   POLITICS.

Every legislator wants to be seen as being concerned about the health and safety of our children.   Raising the age to use tobacco to 21 is a winner for any legislator.  There’s no down side.

So, if that’s the case, lets raise the age to 21 for all of those other activities – gambling, sex, driving and joining the military.

Lets see what the downside is to those decisions.


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Mayor Ryder evaluation

March 30th, 2015 by Ken

Andy Ryder has finished up his first year as mayor of Lacey and I’m constantly being asked  “How’s he doing?”

The answer is fairly well – - better than expected.

There were many questions when Ryder was selected by the council to be the mayor.   He had no experience in city government.   He had never served on the council before.   No one was certain exactly where he stood on the various issues facing city government.

As a business owner, there were questions as to the amount of time he could devote to city business.   The mayor is often called upon to attend functions far in excess of other councilmembers.

He also had troubles sometimes expressing himself.

And, he was selected on a 4-3 split vote.   Not an over-whelming endorsement.

But, in his first year, Ryder has proven to be an effective leader.   He devotes considerable time to city business and representing the city both inside to city residents, and outside to other government entities.

He has grown into the job and even those who weren’t his supporters say he’s doing a good job.

However, he does have a tendency towards arrogance – - a trait not uncommon to politicians – - but one which can get an appointed  mayor into trouble.  More than one Lacey mayor has thought himself above the rest of the council and ended up losing his job.

Overall,  I would give Andy Ryder a B minus in his job as Lacey mayor.





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Keep cars and bike separate

March 27th, 2015 by Ken

The City of Olympia’s recent move to turn Seventh Avenue into a bicycle priority street is a recipe for disaster.

Bicycles and cars should never be on the same streets.   The bike lanes along our city streets are accidents just waiting to happen.   There’s no way a 200-pound pedal driven bicycle should share a road with a 2000-pound engine driven vehicle.

Bike riders say they have a right to be on the road and that communities should make allowances on city streets for bike riders.

Perhaps they should.

But bike riders make mistakes and automobile drivers make mistakes.   And when the two of them collide the bike rider always suffers – - even if he is in the right.

I say – - keep them separate.

Build a hundred more miles of bike trails.   Build two hundred miles if you have to.  But, keep bikes off of city streets.

Turning Seventh Avenue into a bicycle priority street is just asking for trouble.   Cars and bikes don’t belong on the same roadway.

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Rotarians honor contributors

March 27th, 2015 by Ken

Some 200 Thurston County Rotarians and guests honored those who have made financial contributions to Rotary this past year, at a dinner at the Red Lion Thursday evening.

Together local  Rotarians have raised more than $89,000 this Rotary year.   The money goes to Rotary International whose priorities world-wide are the eradication of polio, clean water, education for women and world peace.

Keynote speaker for the 15th annual Rotary Foundation Dinner was Dr. Judith Prather who talked about maternal and child health around the world.     Emcee for the event was Olympia Capital Centennial charter president Jan Teague.

Coordinator of the dinner was Steve Masini, past president of the West Olympia Club.

In addition to working internationally, the nine local Rotary Clubs are deeply involved in community support and projects to help the most vulnerable in our community.

The nine clubs are:  Olympia, Tumwater, Lacey, West Olympia, South Puget Sound, Hawks Prairie,  Gateway, Olympia Capital Centennial and Yelm

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Port commissioners should appoint the best person

March 25th, 2015 by Ken

When I voted for Sue Gunn for Port Commissioner in 2013 I was aware of her radical environmental views. But I voted for despite those views.

I voted for Gunn for three reasons.   She promised to make the marine terminal pay for itself.   She promised to wean the port off of taxpayers subsidies.   And, she wasn’t a member of the longshoreman’s union as her opponent was.  Her environmental views never entered into my decision.

Port Commissioners George Barner and Bill McGregor have to appoint someone to take her seat on the commission.

There are only two requirements.   The person selected must live in Gunn’s Third District – - and – - must be the best of the candidates seeking appointment.   There are no other criteria.


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Plastic bag ban loses support

March 24th, 2015 by Ken

After six months of going without plastic bags, support for a plastic bag ban is on the decline.

A recent survey found that a majority of Thurston County resident were opposed to the plastic bag ban, and the percentage was even higher in Lacey.

As a requirement of its grant from the Department of Ecology, the Solid Waste Advisory Committee was required to do a follow-up survey to gauge the success of the effort.

The survey found that no one likes the plastic bag ban.   The customers don’t like it, the clerks don’t like it, the stores don’t like it.   Some 54 percent of county residents who responded to the survey said didn’t like the plastic bag ban.   In Lacey, the percentage was 57 percent.

Despite the dislike of the ban, local politicians are hesitant to lift the ban.   Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder has said that “he doesn’t want to reopen that can of worms.”

When the ban was put into effect it was supported by only a small vocal minority.   Efforts to place the ban on the ballot failed to garner political support.

It would seem that this new survey should lead local officials, particularly in Lacey, to reconsider, and place the measure on this fall’s ballot.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to use my own bags – - when I remember them.

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Ron Lawson dies

March 21st, 2015 by Ken

Former Lacey Councilmember Ron Lawson died Friday, March 20,  at his home.   He was 76.

Ron had severe medical problems for several years and was a strong advocate for the use of Medical Marijuana.

He served as a member of the Lacey City Council for a full four-year term.   He defeated incumbent mayor Graeme Sackrison in 2009 to take a seat.   He was defeated for re-election in 2013 by Michael Steadman.

At his request there will be no service.   He will be cremated and his ashes spread at sea.

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McGregor just a spectator

March 19th, 2015 by Ken

Bill McGregor’s attendance at the Joe Downing kickoff breakfast was just an opportunity for him to learn more about Downing, according to McGregor.

“If George were to have a kickoff, I’d go to his event too,” he said.

McGregor said he has given no money to either candidate nor made any endorsements.

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Downing kicks off campaign for Port Commissioner

March 18th, 2015 by Ken

Nearly 150 friends and supporters of Joe Downing kicked off his campaign for Olympia Port Commissioner Wednesday morning at the Lacey Community Center.

Downing, a former member of the port’s Citizen Advisory Committee,  touted his credentials and offered his experience and education as reasons he should be the next port commissioner.

But, it was his campaign manager and wife Myra, who boiled the campaign down to its roots.   “Joe needs to get name recognition,” she said.  “He’s running against a familiar name and he needs to get his name out.   When people think of the Port of Olympia, they need to think of Joe Downing,” she said.

The reference to “name” was of course George Barner, whose position on the port commission is the one Downing is seeking.

In an interview Tuesday on KGY Radio, Downing said he knows it’s going to be hard running against a “community icon” but said he couldn’t worry about that.   He said he just has to get his name out to people and let them compare credentials.

Barner has said he would seek re-election.

Downing’s campaign committee said they had received as least one $300 check from an anonymous donor – - implying that the donor wanted change, but didn’t want to upset Barner.

Among the 150 supporters present were three elected officials – - Port Commissioner Bill McGregor, former Lacey Mayor and council member Virgil Clarkson and Lacey Council member Mike Steadman.  Clarkson said he came just to learn more about Downing.


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