Port commissioner defends Marine Terminal

December 7th, 2016 by Ken

(Editors note:  I received the following email from Olympia Port Commissioner Bill McGregor following the publishing of my article regarding the closure of the Marine Terminal at the Port of Olympia)

Ken

In reading the article, I feel compelled to provide correct misinformation that continues to be put out to the general public.

First, the Marine Terminal provides more than a few LOCAL jobs in the handling of the various cargoes – – there are at least 564 jobs associated with the marine terminal.

Second, more than 80 percent of the 35 longshore personnel employed at the Port of Olympia live in Thurston County, while they may take jobs out of town at times, their families and homes are here.  The remaining live in Mason, Lewis and Pierce counties.

Third, many truck drivers come from the local areas of Rainier, Tenino, Bucoda, Yelm – – and VERY few come from “all over Western Washington.”

The Port as a whole relies on property taxes to sustain all of the Port’s 4 lines of business.   The Marine Terminal operation in 2016 is projected to generate  a surplus of $135,000, after all expenses are subtracted.   The deficit shown is a result of the depreciation which brings the operating income/(Loss) to a negative $1,425,000.

Now, lets look at the fiscal impact on the positives of having the Marine Terminal.  Those jobs generate $52,600,000 in personal income (average $62,249/year which is above the Thurston County Average Salary as published by the Bureau of Statistics), $33,000,000 in Business Revenue, $4,900,000 in state and local taxes, and $9,600,000 in Federal tax Revenues.

So, the return to this county, state and Federal Governments far exceeds the negative figure caused by the depreciation figure listed.

For more information on just the Marine Terminal benefits or to find out the impat of all four lines of business, check out “the Economic Benefits to the Port of Olympia” found on our website.

Regards

Bill McGregor

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Time to close the port’s marine terminal

December 6th, 2016 by Ken

I voted for EJ Zita because she promised to close the Port of Olympia’s Marine Terminal if it didn’t pay for itself.   The port still relies on $2 million dollars of taxpayer money each year to keep the port operating.

I support Zita’s efforts to close this money-losing operation, but I disagree with her manner of doing so.   Encouring protests and sit-in’s is not the way to make good public policy.   That’s done by educating the taxpayers and then getting their support for changes.

The Marine Terminal is a money-losing proposition for the Port of Olympia.   Taxpayers still pay a property tax for port operations, and the marine terminal provides very few LOCAL jobs.   Most of the longshoremen who work at the port, are dispatched out of the Tacoma office.   While a handful live in Thurston County, most of them don’t.  The logging truck drivers come from all over Western Washington.   Local residents pay property tax to provide jobs for non-county residents.

I don’t care what cargo the port handles – – be it fracking sand, military cargo, cattle or logs.  Those activities must pay for themselves at the least, and should – at best –  make a profit for the taxpayers.

If not, then close down the Marine Terminal operations.

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End of an era draws near

December 2nd, 2016 by Ken

After more than a decade of governing by liberal Democrats, the end of that era draws near.   This afternoon, supporters of Sandra Romero will say good-bye at an afternoon reception at the Thurston County Courthouse.  Together will her compatriot Cathy Wolfe and bygone partner Karen Valenzuela, liberal politics have controlled the growth and the future of Thurston County since the beginning of the 21st Century.

In a few weeks, that will all change as two conservatives – Gary Edwards and John Hutch Hutchings –  join Bud Blake on the county commission.  Edwards and Hutching are former law enforcement officers and Blake is a retired military officer.  The extent of the change from three liberal women to three conservative men could bring a significant impact on the residents of Thurston County.

Blake, Edwards and Hutching will face some significant problems almost from the beginning.   What to do about groundwater and drinking water?  Should all residents on septic systems be required to pay an annual fee?   Is groundwater discharge really a problem?

How to roll back the restrictive policies put in place to protect the Mazama Pocket Gopher?   Can those restrictions he changed, amended or suspended without the federal government getting more involved?   Can the county process building permits on a quicker and more efficent basis, with the staff they currently have, or do they need more help?

How do you get more money for public safety?  Does the sheriff need more deputies on the road or can he find cutbacks within his department?   If he needs more staff, how do you pay for it?

Do we really need to build a new county courthouse or can the current building be remodeled?   If we must move the courthouse, where should it go?

And, the conservative three will be faced with finding more money just to continue current operations of county government.  Will they need to raise taxes?

All of these problems are complicated and none of the answers are simple.  I hold out great hope that the change in attitude and direction will benefit the taxpayers of Thurston County – but that remains to be seen.   This first year should signal whether or not the three conservatives can solve some of the problems facing those of us who live here.

In two years we’ll know what the voters think.   Bud Blake will be up for re-election and that race should serve as an indicator of how the public feels about the new era of county government.

 

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Lacey celebrates its 50th birthday

December 1st, 2016 by Ken

Fifty years ago this week, residents of the new city of Lacey were waiting to see if the results of the November 8 election would be certified, and that after a long struggle, they would have their own city.

It wasn’t the first election.  Two years previously, residents wanting to form a new city had tried the ballot box and failed.  That effort was led the Lacey Fire District Three which was concerned about the City of Olympia’s annexation of large portions of property in their fire district area.   They were concerned that Olympia would eventually take over their fire department.

The Lacey fire department was staffed by all volunteers, many of them business leaders and owners in Lacey and were concerned about Olympia’s growth efforts.

Following that first failed election, their fears were warranted,  when Olympia came out and annexed all of the industrial property along Fones Road, and all the commercial property along Martin Way to College Street.   Olympia seemed to have no concern at all for the feelings of the residents and businesses in that area.

So, two years later, Lacey interests tried again.   This time they were successful, and Lacey became a city, waiting only for the results of that second election to be certified.   On December 5, 1966, the election was declared certified and Lacey became a city.

That event is being celebrated all year long and culiminates in the city’s official birthday party this Monday beginning at 3 p.m. with ceremonies at The Hub in Woodland Square  with historical displays, dignitaries and speeches.  Then at 6 p.m. the Christmas Tree Lighting program in Huntamer Park, with a lighted parade and the singing of the new city song “You’re Never a Stranger in Lacey”, performed by the students of Lacey Elementary School.    Thanks to the Lacey Fire Department, Santa will arrive in a lighted fire engine.

An event of this magnitude can’t be over so quickly, and so the celebration will continue into next year and end with the Third of July fireworks in 2017.

For more information on the event, contact the City of Lacey at 491-3214.

(Incidently, the efforts by the City of Olympia to stop Lacey from becoming a city resulted in another election two years later when Olympia tried to annex the entire City of Lacey.   That move failed at the polls.)

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Time for Port of Olympia to change its name

November 29th, 2016 by Ken

It’s time for the Port of Olympia to change its name.

When Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts used a meeting of the Olympia City Council to blast the port for doing business, it became obvious that Roberts, as well as a significant number of people, think that the Port of Olympia is a political arm of the City of Olympia.

The Port of Olympia is a separate political entity, that operates with its own board of elected officials.   It has a duty and responsibility to ALL of the taxpayers of Thurston County to meet its obligations of economic development and the creation of jobs.   It does not answer to the City of Olympia for how it conducts its business.

Whether it ships military cargo, logs, cattle or fracking sand is not the business of the City of Olympia or the Olympia Police Chief.  Yet, the chief felt he could stand before the public and criticize what the port ships in and out of its docks.  If he had been dealing with the City of Tumwater or the City of Lacey, Roberts would have been more judicious in his words.   He may have even talked with the elected officials of those cities first before making his comments.

But, Roberts, like many other people think that because the Port of Olympia bears the “Olympia” name, that it belongs to the people of Olympia.  That’s not the case.   The port operates an airport in Tumwater and several other activities around the county.   The port is just the most visible – but not necessarily the most important.  The port belongs to all of the people of Thurston County.

One way to make that point is to change the name of the Port of Olympia (which probably doesn’t deserve the port).  Any number of names would suffice – – Port of Thurston County – Port of South Sound – – or any other that doesn’t carry the “Olympia” nomenclature.

The port should explore a name change.  Determine if it can be done and how it can be done.   The actual name of the port would be the last step.

While we’re at it.  Lets change the name of the “Olympia” airport to the Tumwater-Thurston County airport.

 

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Budget time for local government

November 28th, 2016 by Ken

This week, local cities, counties and special purpose districts will approve their budgets for the coming year.   All of them have held public hearings on the budget and all of them will hold one final meeting in the next couple of weeks to approve their respective budgets.

While the budgets vary in size and in scope, they all have one thing in common.   They all have more money than last year, particularly those that depend on sales tax revenue.   It’s been a good year for sales and revenue is up over 2016 in most areas.

But, they all have something else in common.   All that money has been spent on salary increases for employees, as well as increased costs for medical benefits.

It happens every year.   Government gets more money and that money is immediately eaten up for salaries and benefits.   That’s because all government agencies negotiate with unions for those increases, and over the years those increases have become natural and normal.   Step increases for employees as they gain more experience and stay on the job longer are just one example.   Cost of living increases, to keep up with inflation are also the norm.   Even though inflation has been almost non-existent for several years, those cost of living increases run anywhere from two to six percent.

Increases in medical costs are also passed on to taxpayers.  It’s seldom that government asks its employees to pick up more of the cost of those premiums.

So, don’t expect reductions in taxes or increased government programs, because salaries, benefits and medical costs eat up most of the increased revenue of local governments.

 

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What I’m thankful for – redux

November 24th, 2016 by Ken

Every year at this time I start to think about what I’m thankful for.

Of course I’m thankful for my family, my health and my place in this world.

But, I’m also thankful for our country and the way it picks our leaders.  The recent presidential election brings a far greater meaning this time around.

We have just completed a very divisive and mean-spirited political campaign which resulted in a very surprising upset victory for a non-traditional candidate.   Few people remained neutral in this election and bad blood between parties and people have resulted.

So, why am I thankful?

I was in Peru a few years ago, during an election period.   On election day there were tanks in the street and armed milita on every corner.   Here in Washington and across the country everything was relatively calm.  While we did have some protests and a few incidents of violence, most protests were non-violent and didn’t need to call out the National Guard.   I’m thankful that I live in a country where election results are accepted by the people, no matter who they voted for.

So, I’m thankful that I live in the United States of America where people make their protests at the ballot box and polling sites.   I’m thankful that we live in a country where the military isn’t called out to validate one side or the other.   I’m thankful that I’m an American with the right to make my views known.

I’m thankful that those who disagree with me, do so with great emotion, but in a peaceful manner, respecting every citizen’s right to express an opinion on election day.

I’m thankful that I live in a country which allows us to achieve our potential to the best of our ability, without the confinement of social stature, race or religion.

And, I’m thankful that our current political season is almost over.

(Editors note:   I first published this commentary on Thanksgiving Day 2004)

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Group Health wrestles with patient care

November 23rd, 2016 by Ken

Anyone who has visited the Olympia branch of Group Health has noticed a profound change in the air.   It manifests itself first in the pharmacy where waits of up to an hour or even longer are commonplace.  Spokesman for the cooperative ask for patience as the company changes its computer system to align with that of its new partner Kaiser Permanente.

But, changes are also being discussed at meetings and behind closed doors about the amount of time available for patient care.  The current system allows each doctor 20 minutes to meet with a patient.   Those visits are based on a particular aliment or complaint.   If, in the course of the visit, the patient brings up something not previously scheduled, the doctor is required to send the patient away with the admonishment to make another appointment and come back in two weeks.  Obviously, if it is some type of emergency, then it will be taken care of.  But, most patients are sent away to come back another day.

Doctors aren’t happy with the arrangement.  They would prefer to be able to refer the patient to a specialist for additional care or to be able to spend more time with them.

One of the complaints about health cooperatives is the lack of personal contact with patients and the long waits for care.   Health care professionals at Group Health are talking about this problem behind closed doors with the hope and the expectation that hooking up with Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest health care providers in the country, could put more resouces at their call and perhaps allow them to spend more time with patients.   Only time will tell if the merge will be good for those who use the facility, as well as those who profit from the merger.

(Editors note:   I’ve been a member of Group Health since 1981.   I’ve always felt that I’ve had good service.)

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Observations on birthdays

November 22nd, 2016 by Ken

Today’s my birthday.   That’s not unusual.  Everyone alive (or dead for that matter) has birthdays.  Unless you’re an orphan.  Some babies adopted from Asia often don’t have known birthdays.   Their birthdays are determined by their adoptive parents.   In some cases, they change their birthdates when they get older.

I have a friend who was born on February 29.   He can only celebrate his birthday on the day every four years.  Most of the time he has to chose whether February 28 or March 1 will be his birthday.   I have another friend who was born on December 25.  He always said that his mother made certain to separate his birthday gift from his Christmas gift – – but I doubt it made much difference.

Some people are born on historic days like December 7 or September 11 or even July 4.   I was born on November 22.  I have another friend who was born on April 4.  While those days are losing some of their significance, some people still remember.   I have a grand daughter who was born September 9, 1999.   Her birthdate is 9-9-99.   I suspect 9 is her lucky number.

Families approach birthdays differently.  Some shunt them aside as just another day and may provide a card.  Others make a big deal out of birthdays, with a cake, and the song – you know what song I mean.  My family falls somewhere in between.

We make a big fuss out of children’s birthdays.  We make certain that they’re rememberable, even though the child often has no memory of the event in later years.  We don’t make quite as much fuss over birthdays of adults unless they’re having one of the big O birthdays.

When we reach the age of 90 or so, people begin to make a fuss about an adult’s birthday, wondering just how they were able to live that long and trying to determine if we really want to live to that age.

Every birthday is significant, but only if we chose it to be.   I always chose to make my birthday significant – even though it really isn’t.

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It’s not the Evergreen way

November 21st, 2016 by Ken

At its most recent meeting, The Evergreen State College’s Board of Trustees found itself over-whelmed by dozens of screaming, yelling protestors with bull horns, demanding – – well, no one’s quite sure, but they were vocal and adamant about something.  The trustees adjourned the meeting and left the room to the protestors.

Word that a handful of Greeners including a professor or two, were involved in last weeks Anti-Fracking protest should have come as no surprise.  That’s what young students and old professors do – – protest.   It’s the college way.  A few years back, Greeners and their professors were involved in Anti-Military protests at the Port of Olympia.   That’s what young students and Boomer professors do – protest.

Evergreen is no stranger to protests.  During its first year, when dedication ceremonies were planned, students and faculty were incensed over Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and the killing of students at Kent State.  Plans to disrupt the dedication were eventually scaled back and everyone participating in the ceremony wore black arm bands instead.   That was to become the Evergreen Way – peaceful protests – non-violence – – until recently that is

When you have a Four-Year State College in your town, you have to expect that students will protest something.  They’re almost driven by their youth to solve the problems of the world and cure the ills of society.

Recently those protest have become more vocal and tinged with a bit of violence.   Maybe it echos our modern day society – – but it sure isn’t the Evergreen way.

(Editor’s note:   I was a student at Evergreen in its first  few years of operation.)

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Random Snapshots

November 16th, 2016 by Ken

By Dale Cooper

HE’S NOT MY PRESIDENT – These chants about president-elect Trump echo today in concrete canyons of big Democrat-blue US cities.   The protestors are anti-democracy teens suffering from uncontrollable flash-mob fueled temper tantrums.  They’re aided and abetted by ideologically motivated young adults who, along with those they lead, haven’t a clue as to where any of them are headed.  So they just roam the big city streets in circular fashion like night crawlers on shiny black asphalt.   Naturally the teen protestors receive the blessings of their teachers, who must be teaching an unusual version of civics about the peaceful transfer of power we’re always prided ourselves on.

SANCTUARY CITIES – The Democrat-blue big city programs that shield undocumented immigrants from federal scrutiny will be off-limits to the president-elect, according to many of their top elected officials who openly and rhetorically engage in rhetorical rebellion against him before he even sits down in the Oval Office.   Like a chorus of ornery mules they bray about how they’ll defy the federal government if it exercises its constitutional authority over immigation to their dislike – – or for that matter any restrictions in the flow of money from those very feds.

THE ELECTORIAL COLLEGE – If anything, the speeches by the elected leaders of the Democrat-blue big cities and the behavior of the it’s teenaged inhabitants irrefutably demonstrate our imperative need to preserve our Electorial College.  Without it we citizens of small cities, towns and farms would be subject to the brand of mob rule we’re witnessing today in those defiant Democrat-blue big cities.

IF YOU VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP YOU’RE A RACIST OR SOMETHING REPREHENSIBLE-PHOBE –  This contention is, on its face, full of holes.   For, according to its own internal logic, those who voted for Hillary Clinton then  are corrupt, war-mongering, congenital liars.

THE DARK AGES – I heard an aggrieved Mexican immigrant interviewed on radio today proclaim that she’ll fight with all her being against the coming administrations agenda, one that, though yet nascent and unnounced, would surely throw us back into the “dark ages”.   I wonder if she was attracted to, and immigrated to the US during one of those dreadful “dark ages”.  If so, I have to wonder – – are we getting into or out of those “dark years.”

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON  -As always, good advice.

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Does “The Olympian” really want diverse viewpoints?

November 15th, 2016 by Ken

The Olympian is looking for citizen members to join its editorial board for the coming year.   If you’re interested you can send your letter of intent and resume to the paper.

Last year the paper also asked for citizen members to apply for the editorial board.   When they didn’t get applicants they wanted, they appealed again.  So, I submitted my resume and letter of interest.   It was particularly important because I knew they would make endorsements for the many political positions up this year.

I didn’t hear from them – not even a rejection letter – so I called and talked with Brad Shannon.   I also made inquiries through other means.   No decision was made.   The paper would go without a citizen member.   And, consequently we got the same left-leaning editorials and endorsements that the paper always makes.   And, as usual, the paper once again showed how out-of-touch it is with the people of Thurston County.

This year it is once again looking for people to serve on its editorial board.   We have many local offices up for election this time around, and we will have major city initiatives on the ballot as well.   If you’re interested in having a say in the future of our communtity – apply for the position.

I already have.   The Olympian knows my interest.   If it truly wants diverse views, then I’m still available.

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I’m a Democrat

November 13th, 2016 by Ken

I’m a Democrat.   I have been all of my adult life.  I was active and involved for more than 20 years.  In most of that time I was a Precinct Committeman.

I’m a Democrat because it is the party that cares about the working man.   It’s the party that supports the efforts of organized labor to get better working conditions for those who labor on manufacturing lines,in the mines and on the roads.   It’s  for the farmer who works from sun up to sun down to make a living for his family.   It’s the party that understands that small business is the lifeline of this country and the major employer of most working people.

That’s why I’m a Democrat.

The party that carries that name is no longer my party and hasn’t been for decades.   The party that carries the label of Democrat is not the party that echoes the reasons I’m a Democrat.   The party that carries that name is more concerned with other issues that have little or no bearing on my welfare and often works at odds to my future and my family’s future.

I’ve never been able to accomodate my beliefs to that of the Republican party which always favored big business over the working man.

The recent election has turned the parties upside down.   Do the Republicans now support the small business owner and the working stiff, or are they still partners with big business and the established elite?

And, where is my Democratic party?   Is it once and for all realizing that its core constituents of the hard working man and the small business owner may have moved to the Republicans?

I’m going to continue to be a Democrat and hope that sometime soon, my party will return to me.   Until then, I’ll just muddle through the rehetoric holding my party’s place until it comes back.

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Did your vote count?

November 12th, 2016 by Ken

That may be a silly question.   Did your vote count?   But, here in Thurston County, more than 4000 people who cast a write-in vote for president, didn’t have that vote counted.

According to Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall,  federal and state law specify that write-in votes aren’t counted, unless they would impact the outcome of the race.  Of the nearly 120,000 votes cast for president in Thurston County, about 3.5 percent were write-in votes.  That would not impact the final outcome, and the write-in votes weren’t tallied.  Hall is quick to point out, that those write-in ballots were counted for all the other races and positions.

Write-in votes were also cast for candidates in other races as well.  There were 500 write-in votes for Senator, 400 for Governor and 1,800 for State Treasurer, where two Republicans were on the ballot. (We can assume then, that there are 1800 rock ribbed Democrats in Thurston County who would vote for a Yellow Dog, if it was on the ballot.)   In that State Treasurer’s race, some 21,000 voters in Thurston County didn’t vote in that contest.  (That implies that 21,000 voters prefer no one over a Republican.  That also gives us the idea than any person running for political office in Thurston County has a 20,000 vote advantage if they run as a Democrat.)

As far as the write-in ballots, Hall will keep them for 22 months before destroying them.

We’ll never know how many votes Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck or None of the Above received.

 

 

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Changes coming to county government

November 10th, 2016 by Ken

A little over two years ago, Thurston County government was stuck in a fog of regulations, incriminations and liberal policies that verged on violation of due process and private property rights.

The county was controlled by three liberal Democratic women – Sandra Romero, Cathy Wolfe and  Karen Valenzuela, whose agenda echoed that of downtown Olympia and those liberal cities all along the Pacific Coast.  They all lived within a few miles of each other and they all came from the urban area.

Residents in South County, in Rainier, Yelm, Tenino and Littlerock, not only felt left out of the county government process, but operated under restrictive rules that might have some merit in urban areas, but not in rural areas.   Those county commissioners seemed deaf and blind to the pleas of  rural residents.

That has all changed.

It started  with the 2014 election, when a relative unknown named Bud Blake, running as an independent, challenged Valenzuela – – and won.   It was a major shock to the county political system.   Such a shock, that both Wolfe and Romero decided to retire this year.

Now, if election trends continue, two other “independent” candidates will fill those positions.   Both Gary Edwards and John “Hutch” Hutchings are leading their respect races for county commission.  Both are conservative as is Blake.  In a period of just two years, the Thurston County Commission will have gone from one of the most liberal bodies in the state, to one of the most conservative west of the Cascades.

Reason for the changes will be explained in a later post, but be aware there will be changes aplenty.

 

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The era of hurt feelings

November 8th, 2016 by Ken

A newspaper article caught my attention recently.    It said that we no longer had convicts in our state prison system.   We don’t even have any offenders there.  What we do have are “students” or “patients” or, at the very worse “incarcerated persons.”  The Washington State Department of Corrections said that by eliminating words like convicts and offenders from the prison vocabulary, that we would remove the negative connotations associated with the words and give those in the state prison system a more “positive self-image.”

About a year ago, I heard some learned scholars referring to “enslaved persons” when talking about the slave era in the American South.   It was such an unusual term that I remembered it.  I guess, “slave” refers to a position of servitude, while “enslaved person” refers to someone who is a slave against his/her will.  The term is now used to remove any doubts that slaves were in a position against their will, thus giving them a more positive self-image.

This idea that words can hurt follows from the anti-bullying efforts in our schools and universities.  When you label someone with a term – – you are in essence defining that someone against his/her will.   And thus, you’re hurting his/her feelings.  And hurt feelings are a form of bullying.

What words can we use now?

As Humpty Dumpty said in a very scornful tone, “When I say a word it means just what I chose it to mean – – nothing more, nothing less.”

Remember “1984” and “Wordspeak” where the government controlled all speech.   Now it appears that Humpty was wrong.   Words mean just what the government choses them to mean.

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Don’t vote

November 7th, 2016 by Ken

That’s right.   Don’t vote.   If you haven’t voted by now, chances are you don’t really care about the election.

Oh, I’m certain you care about the presidential race, but other than that, you don’t really care whose going to hold the rest of the elective offices – – because, if you had – – you would have voted by now.

That’s the beauty of our Vote by mail system in place here in Washington .  We have more than two weeks to cast our ballots.  Surveys have shown that those who have deep feelings about the election – vote within a few days after receiving the ballot.   A few more will trickle in – and by the last weekend before Tuesday’s dealine, most people will have voted.

So, if you wait until election day, that means you have no great concern and that you have little or no idea of what you’re voting for.   You are what I call – the ignorant voter.   You vote because you feel guilty if you don’t – – or you vote because you think it’s your duty – and you have to vote.  Either way, you’re voting out of ignorance and you cause more harm than good.

You’re the reason we get the elected officials we get.

So, don’t vote.  Your vote will do nothing but harm our elective process and give us poor elected officials.

But – – if you feel you have to vote for whatever reason – – read the posts on my blog.   Maybe you’ll learn something and you won’t be quite as ignorant.

 

 

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The Dark side of the state initiatives

November 5th, 2016 by Ken

We’ve been bombarded with television ads telling us how good passage of various state initiatives will be for our future health and well-being.   But, what these TV spots don’t tell you is the dark side.  Here are the facts.

Commercials for Initiative 1464 say it would stop elected officials from becoming lobbyists and make certain everyone knows who pays for political advertising.    What it doesn’t say is that it taxes businesses to publically fund all candidates for election.   By changing the tax structure, it gives $250 of public money to every voter – who can then give it to the candidate of his/her choice.  It’s a law that changes our entire election structure.

Initiative 732 tells the biggest lies of all.   Supporters claim the measure would reduce the effects of global warming by taxing big polluters.  What it really does is the raise the price of gasoline by 25 to 30 cents a gallon and increases the prices of everything we buy.  It won’t do a single thing to reduce global warming.   It’s a “feel good” measure which is designed to make us think we’re doing something, when all we’re doing is increasing the cost of living.

Initiative 735 is an attempt by liberal Democrats to overturn a Supreme Court ruling regarding political campaign contributions.   It does nothing but asks Congress to substitute its wisdom for that of the Court.

Supporters of Initiative 1433 want to increase the state minimum wage to $13.50 an hour.   They say its good for everyone and good for the economy.  The fact is that increasing the minimum wage to that extent, will increase the number of people who lose their jobs, particularly those with no job skills and no work history.  It will also require ALL businesses to fund a health care plan, thus propping up the failing Obamacare.

Initiative 1491 is  featuring a heart-wretching story about a mentally ill person who was able to buy a gun and shoot himself and his sister.   The story is hard to watch.   The Initiative will allow household members to get a restraining order to stop a family member from buying a gun.   It has good intentions, but it’s too broad and is just another nail in the Second Amendment.

The biggest farce of all is Initiative 1501, which claims to protect vulnerable people from predators, but is really an attempt by government unions to get around the Public Records Act.   It wants to keep union membership lists secret and away from the prying eyes of the public.   If this is to pass, it will make the Public Records Act moot.

The best thing to do is vote No on all the self-serving and so-called “citizen” initiatives.

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How do you run a political campaign in these new times?

November 3rd, 2016 by Ken

For a decade now, Thurston County has had all vote by mail. Washington state went all vote my mail in 2011.  Only a two other states in the country do that.   And Vote By Mail is confusing to an important element of the electorate – – the political professional, the people who run elections.

No longer do all people go to the polls on the same day.  That hasn’t been the case for some time.  More and more  states are allowing early voting – – but an all vote by mail state is rare.   Currently only Oregon and Colorado have joined Washington in vote by mail.   California has passed it, but hasn’t implemented it for this year.

So, the question is asked, how do you run a political campaign in a Vote By Mail state?   When do you spend money on television and radio?   When do you mail out those political flyers that jam up mail boxes?

Each and every political operative has an idea, but none are quite sure.

Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall estimates that a large bulk of ballots are returned the weekend after the voter has received them.   To date about 35 percent of all ballots have been received at the auditor’s office, but that’s the total for all ballots.   Those received on the first day could comprise as much as 40 percent of all votes.

The question becomes – do you spend the bulk of your money on those early voters – or are they ones who have already made up their mind and won’t change it for anything?    Or, do you spend your campaign money for the two weeks following, when many voters still have some questions?

Running political campaigns isn’t as easy as it once was.   Newspapers play a smaller role, major media is suspect and social media is still in its infancy state when it comes to political influence.  Add vote by mail to that, and you have a problem.

But, political operatives hold out hope, that eventually things will stablize and they can once again work their magic and convince voters that their candidate is best.   Even with all the uncertainty, running campaigns is still a magnet for political junkies.

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Lacey chamber wrestles with leadership

November 1st, 2016 by Ken

What’s the purpose of a chamber of commerce?  Is it to promote the idea that the city is a good place to live, work and raise a family?   Is the purpose of a chamber to promote tourism and fill the beds and seats of hotels and restaurants?   Is the purpose of a chamber to stand up to government and promote business ideals?

The Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce has a leadership problem to solve.

I’ve been a member of the Lacey Chamber since 1971.   I’ve seen it change its name three times.   I’ve seen it go through nearly a dozen executive directors – some who leave for promotions and more money – – and some who leave for incompetence or criminal activities.

I’ve seen nearly 50 people step up and serve a term as the president.  All of them have had one thing in common.   They were either a business owner, a business manager, an employee of a business or an entrepreneur.

Therein lies the problem facing the Lacey chamber.   Tomorrow, the leadership of the Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce will be introduced to the membership.   One name stands out – – Graeme Sackrison.  Graeme will be the president-elect of the chamber and will automatically become the president next year.

Graeme has one problem.   He has never met the qualifications of involvement with business.   As far as I know, he has never even worked for a business – except perhaps when he was working his way through college.

Graeme has a great record of service to the Lacey community.  He served more than a decade on the Lacey City Council including a term as mayor.  He has headed the North Thurston citizen for schools committee for longer than that and has been involved with the North Thurston Education Foundation.   He is currently an elected member of the North Thurston School Board.   He founded the Alternative Fuels Fair and has been involved with the Summer’s End Car Show.   He has worked long and hard for the Lacey community

But, he has no business experience.   He spent his whole life working for government in various capacities.

Is business experience a requirement as laid out in the chamber’s by-laws?   No.   I helped rewrite them several years ago.   But, it is expected that the president of a business organization has some business experience.   And, the fact that Graeme is an elected official is also another reason he shouldn’t be representing business.

Two decades ago, then Lacey City Manager Greg Cuoio was working his way up the chamber leadership ladder and was in line to be president-elect.   I pointed out that he had no business experience.   He felt that running a city gave him the skills necessary to run a chamber.   I pointed out that government and  business were mortal enemies.   Government wants to regulate and tax.   Business doesn’t want to be regulated and taxed.   Cuoio said that he could abstain from any issues in conflict between business and government.   I countered that the chamber president shouldn’t be abstaining, but out in front leading the fight against government actions.   Cuoio stepped down from the president-elect position.

Those are the same arguements I make now.   Graeme Sackrison should take the opportunity tomorrow to thank the chamber for its confidence in him.   Then he should step down.   He can remain on the board, but he shouldn’t take a leadership position.

That move will be good for the Lacey business community and good for Graeme Sackrison.

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