Read Voters Pamphlet warning – carefully

April 25th, 2016 by Ken

You have just received your Voter’s Pamphlet in the mail for the Presidential Primary.

Be sure to read the warning carefully.

In order for your vote to count, you must chose a political party – Democratic or Republican – and sign an oath that you are a member of that party. Your vote must correspond to the right candidate for that party. If not it will be voided.

Be aware that by signing the party preference, your name will appear on the rolls of that party and you will probably receive campaign solicitation letters.

Also be aware, that the Democratic Party will NOT use the results to select who they endorse. They’ve already made their selections at the caucuses held last month. The Republicans will select SOME of their delegate from the results of the election.

The cost of this election to the taxpayers – – $11.4 million dollars.

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School district employees wrong to oppose name change

April 24th, 2016 by Ken

Word has it that some teachers and employees of North Thurston Public Schools are opposed to a name change for the district. Some have even threatened not to vote for any school levies in the future. Their biggest complaint is the cost involved in the change.

While the exact costs of the change are not known yet – – its estimated that the cost to change the district’s name will cost less than hiring one new teacher.

Some are opposed to the name Lacey School District – touting the initials LSD. The school board will make the final decision as to what the new name will be. They are very much aware of the initials. And, they have not yet decided on the final name.

The name North Thurston served the district well, when Lacey had 6000 residents. Lacey has nearly 50,000 residents and the city’s urban growth area contains another 40,000, all of whom will eventually be annexed into the city. That’s the law.

The future of the school district rests with the residents of the City of Lacey. Continual support for school activities will depend on whether or not the city residents feel the district represents them.

Whether the school district changes its name now – – or in 20 years. It will ultimately change its name to reflect its community.

We know that school employees will not vote against the school levies. That’s just emotion talking. Those who work for the district need to get the full information before making a decision like that.

And, North Thurston High School’s name will never be changed. it reflects the district’s past and will stay as a symbol of the district’s history.

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Lacey council wrestles with city identity

April 22nd, 2016 by Ken

The Lacey City Council held its annual retreat Friday with the goal of looking at the future and determining where they wanted Lacey to be in 25 years. As part of that process, the council was to look at branding. They determined that branding of a city involved two elements – – organic and directed.

This led me to the City of Tumwater. For nearly a century, the City of Tumwater’s image revolved around the Olympia Brewery. Part of that was organic, in that artesian wells provided the perfect beer brewing water. The rest was good old fashioned entrepreneurship. The brewery was such a significant player in Tumwater, that the old brew tower became the city’s logo.

When the brewery folded about a decade ago, the city looked for ways to revitalize itself and looked for a new brand. It found it and started an effort to become the micro brewing capital of the state.

But, while city mothers and fathers embarked on the effort to capitalize on the brewery’s old name and embrace new mico-breweries – – something happened.

The culture of the community changed and Tumwater now finds itself the marijuana growing capital of Washington State.

More marijuana is produced in Tumwater than anyplace else in the state. Part of that change was organic. Enough land was available for marijuana production. And, part of it was good old fashion entrepreneurship.

The City of Lacey, in an effort to rebrand itself, might look at Tumwater and determine – -what’s organic and what’s going to take good old-fashioned entrepreneurship. The city can do all the direction it wants, but those two elements will determine the city’s brand.

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$20 bill image change short-sighted

April 21st, 2016 by Ken

I understand the political correct pressure being applied to the US Treasury to put a woman and/or a minority on American currency. That’s the story of our time – we have to live with it.

Removing Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill, however, instead of Hamilton on the $10, is a case of significant pressure, this time from the cultural elite. They’ve fallen in love with Hamilton as portrayed on the New York stage. Jackson is always named in the top ten most effective presidents and is the only president to have an era named after him. I’m aware of his slave ownership and his Indian removal policy – but he shouldn’t be removed from American currency anymore than Washington, Lincoln or Grant.

If we must place a woman or minority on American money, Harriet Tubman is a poor choice. Her contribution to this country’s legacy is minor and insignificant. If we must place a black woman on the currency, than Rosa Parks is a better choice. She jump-started the modern civil rights movement. If it must be a woman, than Eleanor Roosevelt is the best choice.

I think the U.S. Treasurer is trying to meet the expectation of the vocal minority community without any great understanding of American society – – or even American history.

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Bicycles don’t belong on city streets

April 21st, 2016 by Ken

A proposal to add bicycle lanes to College Street is one of the most asinine ideas yet advanced in the war between automobiles and bicycles.

That’s what it is – – a war. Automobiles and bicycles are mortal enemies. They fight for space, they fight for advantage and they fight for ideas. Anytime a bicycle and an automobile collide, the bicycle is always the loser – – even if he is in the right.

A 2000 pound car and a 200 pound bicycle don’t belong in the same weight category and they don’t belong in the same ring. They also don’t belong on the same streets.

I favor building more bike lanes – but as far away from automobiles as practical.

College Street is the City of Lacey’s busiest street with cars numbering in the tens of thousands. Just that sheer number of cars assures us that a bike and a car will collide – – and the bicycle rider will end up in the hospital – – if he’s lucky.

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Military has large presence in Lacey

April 20th, 2016 by Ken

Lacey officials estimate that at least 40 percent of Lacey residents have some personal contact with the military.

The last estimate in 2014 showed that 5000 active duty military lived in Lacey. Another 4150 military connected spouses called Lacey home. An estimated 3650 military connected children also lived in Lacey. The city also estimates that 5000 veterans also make their home in Lacey.

The total number of military connected citizens living in Lacey is 17,800 – – or 40 percent of the city’s population as of 2014.

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School board moves ahead with name change

April 18th, 2016 by Ken

The North Thurston School Board has moved ahead with the next step in changing the name of the school district – -but was reluctant to move too quickly.

There was no unanimity of the need for a name change among the board members, at the work session, and no agreed upon name – – although Lacey Public Schools was suggested.

The board opted to have a public meeting to solicit input on a possible name change, but in order to do so, it had to set a public hearing with the proposed name.  But, prior to that, the board wanted a public meeting to allow those with strong feelings to make their views known.

The district will also undertake a community survey to gather additional comments.

The tentative date for the public meeting is May 12.

Below are some excerpts from the work session.

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Lacey history this week 1974

April 18th, 2016 by Ken

Due to the failure of the recent bond issue, the North Thurston School Board has voted to eliminate the hot lunch program in the middle schools.  Superintendent Dr. John Gott said, even if the bond issue had passed, the board may have had to take the same action.    Gott also said, the failure of the bond issue passage may mean the district will have to look at double-shifting the elementary schools next year.

In other action, the City of Lacey hired its first  full time Parks and Recreation Director.   Jim Sheler from Albany, Oregon, has been hired for the job at an annual salary of $12,000

The population of the City of Lacey has been set at 10,728 after the city won an appeal which had set the population at 10,100.  That will bring in an additional $16,000 in state revenue above the state’s previous estimate.

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Obscure local facts

April 14th, 2016 by Ken

The Public Records Act has created a problem and significant cost to local governments.   The City of Lacey has one person full time to answer public records requests.  In Thurston County three people are actively involved in answering citizen requests – – an attorney, a legal aid and a clerical person.   Costs to local government runs into the $100,000’s.

There is a suicide in Thurston County almost every week.   Some 48 people committed suicide last year in the county.   That adds up to almost one a week.  Some 70 percent of them shoot themselves with a gun.

The City of Olympia has implemented a $20 car tab tax on all automobiles registered in the city.   Shortly, the city will increase that amount to $40 per year – with an option of increasing it to $50 next year.  The City of Tumwater has levied a .02 percent sales tax increase to fund transportation matters.   Thurston County and the City of Lacey are looking at increasing taxes to fund road and street projects.  Lacey hopes to go to the voters some time next year with a .02 percent sales tax increase. Can you register your car in Tumwater or Lacey if you live in Olympia?   You’re not suppose to.

Lacey continues to have the most diverse population in the county.   Some 74 percent of Lacey’s population is white.   In Olympia the white population numbers 84 percent and Tumwater is 85 percent white.   The largest minority group in those cities is Asian.   Lacey is 8 percent Asian, Olympia is 6 percent and Tumwater is nearly 5 percent.

While we’re on the subject of population, Thurston Regional Planning Council’s estimates of city population in 2015 has Olympia on top with 51,000.   Lacey with 46,000, Tumwater 19,100 and Yelm at 8,165.   These are just educated estimates.


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Why the school district should change its name

April 11th, 2016 by Ken

In 1983, I was hired by John Gott, superintendent of the North Thurston School District, to be the first full time community relations director.   While I had many responsibilities, my main duty was to get the annual school maintenance and operations levy passed.   This is never specified as the duty and we were always careful to separate the duties from the legal responsibilities – – but it was understood – – my job was to get the levies passed.

North Thurston had a spotty record on passing school levies.   Some had failed once and passed a second time.   Once, we even had a double levy failure.   Our levies seldom passed with much more than the bare 60 percent approval required at that time.   The district often looked at the adjacent district of Olympia and marveled at how the voters in the city supported the levies overwhelmingly.

The first thing I realized upon being hired was the fact the district had the complete and full support of the parents and the staff of the district – – but support from the Lacey community was lacking.   The district had been unable to get those who had no active stake in education, to support the levies.

The first thing I did was get access to the residents of Panorama City.  This is and continues to be, a large voting bloc.  In the past the residents had not supported the levies and were worried about the cost and their rates increasing as a result.   We appealed to them to think about their children and their grandchildren – – and we made it possible for more of them to volunteer to work in their local school.    We created the “Gold Card” which allowed seniors to get into school sporting events – free of charge, as a thanks for their past support of money for education.   Understanding and communications were the significant tools to get support from the residents of Panorama City.   Now, Panorama residents are firm and committed education supporters.

Next, I worked to get the school district involved with the business community.   We joined the Lacey Area Chamber of Commerce and immediately took on leadership roles.   Some in the education community thought it was a waste of time and that educators time could better be spent with the kids.   When the levy came up in 1984, the Lacey Chamber supported the levy for the first time.  We also supported membership by district employees into local service clubs.

We tried to find ways to get the message of education out to the Lacey community.   We started the “Key Communicator” program.   We identified those people in the community who talk and interact with people on a regular basis.   This could be ministers, barbers, beauticians, scout leaders and home owner association presidents.   We came up with more than 200 names.   We put them on a list and asked them to be a key communicator.   We brought them to the district to meet with the superintendent and we kept them informed of school issues – – often before they became public.

In the end, we realized that the school district had become distant from the community in which it operated.   We moved to bring that isolationism to an end and become part of the community.

We passed our next maintenance and operations levy by 82 percent – – the largest percentage ever.

The moral is simple.   The school district must become part of the community.   Sometimes it takes a great deal of effort.   Some times its as simple as taking on the name of the community it represents.

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Is the $100 Bill on its way out?

April 11th, 2016 by Ken

When was the last time you saw a $500 American Bill.    Probably never.   And that’s just the way the United States Government wanted it.

In 1969, the federal government stopped making and issuing $500 bills and started taking them all out of circulation.   The reason for the move was to make illegal transactions more difficult.  It didn’t seem to have much impact – as international criminal agencies resorted to the $100 bill.   In the last two decades, illegal crime also moved to on-line and digital transactions, helped by off-shore accounts that are not traceable.

Recently, the U.S. Treasury Department floated a trial balloon.   It was considering eliminating the $100 bill.

Government officials say that nothing good comes from transactions involving the $100 dollar bill.

I most often see the $100 bill at local casinos where it seems to be the currency of gambling.   There’s a black market economy that involves the $100 bill.   Many transactions over services – house cleaning  – window washing – – lawn maintenance – car repairs and hundreds of other business activities deal in cash.   It’s not illegal providing the recipient declares the income. But it lends itself to abuse.

The federal government estimates that the black market economy makes up about 20 percent of the country’s total economic activity and is money that it doesn’t collect taxes on.   That’s estimated at $365 billion each year.

It’s estimated that more than 10 Trillion $100 Dollar American Bills are currently in circulation – – much of them outside of the United States.

Those who believe in conspiracies think the federal government’s move to do away with the $100 bill is just the next step in government’s move to do away with all currency – – thus enabling it to keep a better track on individual income and spending by forcing everyone to move to digital transactions.

I find the $100 bill a convenient means of making my financial transactions.   I would hate to see it go by the wayside in the government’s efforts to collect more taxes.  And, I still don’t trust the security of  on-line banking.  So please, keep the $100 Bill – – at least for a few more years.

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DiSanto to retire from Panorama

April 10th, 2016 by Ken

Joseph DiSanto, who has led Panorama for two decades, has announced that he is retiring.   His last day at the Lacey-based retirement center will be August 1, 2016.

In his 20 years of leading the Northwest’s largest continuing care retirement community, Panorama has seen significant changes in its method of operation.   DiSanto previously worked in the hospitality industry and saw the need to bring some of that service to Panorama.   “We have the hospitality of a hotel, with the service of a retirement center,” he said.

During his tenure Panorama has undergone significant physical changes as well.  It has constructed a 206-seat auditorium –  a new swimming and exercise facility – and  completely renovated its administrative offices and restaurant.   Housing on the campus of the community is renovated when units become available.

Panorama’s Board of Directors is keeping quiet on DiSanto’s replacement – but the search is obviously underway.   DiSanto  will stay in the local area and will work as a consultant.

For more information  go to Thurstontalk.

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Exploring Comp Plans

April 8th, 2016 by Ken

In 1973, the City of Lacey, with assist from Thurston Regional planning staff, drafted its first  Comprehensive Plan for the development of the city.

Even 40 years ago, planning staff were calling for a “walkable” community and many of the ideas advanced in that 1973 plan are continuing to be used today.

All plans call for reasonable assumptions –  – and these were some of the assumptions Regional Planning staff determined would impact Lacey’s future.

The plan said that Lacey was a bedroom community for Olympia and would continue to be so into the 21st Century.    It said that population growth in Lacey would be around 20,000 by the beginning of the new century – and that was the high growth line.

The planning staff said that commercial growth in Lacey would slow considerably as the land available for commercial use would decline.   It said that commercial growth on Olympia’s Westside would meet the commercial demand in the community and that additional land for commercial development was not needed in Lacey.

It also said a new city hall should be built on Bowker Street and Pacific Avenue.

So much for comp plans when staff use past and current trends without some insight into the future.

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Lacey history this week 2001

April 5th, 2016 by Ken

Construction of a bicycle tunnel under Sleater Kinney will begin shortly.   This week the Lacey City Council awarded a bid of $1.4 million to Glacier Construction Company of Sumner to begin the job.    The company will dig an open trench and put a lid over it.   Not a very difficult construction project.

The 120-foot long tunnel is the first of its kind in the state and will allow employees of the Department of Ecology to ride their bicycles to work unimpeded from Olympia to their St. Martin’s headquarters.

In other news this week, Olympia mayor Stan Biles took a tour of the Lacey Museum and other historical sites in the city.   Unaware that Lacey even had a museum, the mayor said he was impressed with the way the city honored those who have made a major contribution to the community and bemoaned the fact that Olympia didn’t have its own museum.   With everything he saw, the mayor said, he thinks Lacey would make a fine addition to the City of Olympia.

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Forget public use of the old Tumwater Brew House

March 30th, 2016 by Ken

I had the opportunity recently to tour the old historic Tumwater Brew House.

It’s a magnificent structure, made of Chehalis bricks and Tenino sandstone on the outside, and concrete and steel on the inside.  It’s the landmark for the City of Tumwater and is used as the  iconic symbol for all city buildings.

But, time and weather has significantly impacted the building.   It’s topless, with no roof and bricks are continuously falling from the top of the structure.  The windows have all been removed and the interior is left for the homeless and the elements to destroy.

This landmark of earlier times in Tumwater should be saved.   Someone needs to come up with an estimated million dollars to put a roof over the top of the brew tower.

I love history.   I love old buildings.   I’m also a Tumwater kid and remember very well when the building was in use.  My parents worked in the adjacent buildings when it was Western Metalcraft.

But, having said all that.    I can’t conceive on any significant public use for the building.   There’s no public access to it.

The Brew House operated from 1906 to 1916 – a short ten years.   That’s all.   It was served by a railroad, which brought in hops, barley and rice.   Small boats traveled up Budd Inlet and served the brewery during those times, taking away the finished product.

But, those are gone, and there is no way for the public to get to the property except by a narrow, steep road.  Surrounded by water on two sides and steep cliffs on the other two sides, the brewery is isolated.

Supporters talk about building a bridge over the DesChutes River, a walking bridge.   I say good luck to that.  The Department of Ecology will never allow a bridge over the river.   Accessing it by boat at high tide requires the removal of the Fifth Avenue Bridge and the dredging of the lake.

The Brew House is isolated.   There can be no public use without access.

My best advice is to stop the deterioration, renew the exterior, remove the old surrounding buildings, clean up the property, open up the land to provide a better view of the restored building – – and let it serve as a city landmark for another century.  Forget about trying to find a public use for it.  Somethings are beautiful just for their looks.

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Name change faces school district

March 29th, 2016 by Ken

Now that they’ve hired a new school superintendent, the North Thurston school board will face another significant decision – – a name change for the school district.

The board will hold a work session on April 18 to determine if the name of the district should be changed to better reflect its service community – – and if so – – to what.

For several years, school supporters have thought that the name “North Thurston” no longer reflected the greater Lacey community and that a name such as “Lacey” might better tie the school community with the community it serves.   When Raj Manhas took the reins of the district, one of his pledges was to begin a discussion on that matter,

That discussion has been underway for some time, but the work session on April 18 will be the first official meeting of the school board on the issue.


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North Thurston has new school superintendent

March 28th, 2016 by Ken

North Thurston Public Schools have hired a new superintendent – – Dr. Debra Clemens – most recently from Cheney.   She goes by Deb, so we’ll see how soon people start calling her that.    She replaces Raj Manhas, who will retire at the end of June.

Like all good spouses, she followed her husband, to Western Washington, where he has taken a new job.   She had applied for other jobs on the wet side of the mountains including for the Edmonds School District, where she placed second.

North Thurston school board members had nice things to say about her selection to head Thurston county’s largest school district.    School Board president Aaron Owada was quoted in “The Olympian” as saying she has values commensurate with the values we have in North Thurston.  Board member Graeme Sackrison said that she has a broad range of experiences and is eager to become more involved in the community.

She and her family will soon move to Lacey.

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Words of advice from a poker player

March 25th, 2016 by Ken

I’m a poker player.   I’ve been sitting at the poker table since I was three.   My daddy let me sit on his lap, stack his chips and throw them in the pot when he called.   It wasn’t too long after, that I set my feet on the road to ruin.   It was a tough road, but I always held an extra ace – – the advice I had received from my daddy.

One word he gave me – and has been picked up around the world – – is – when you play with strangers – look around for the sucker.   If you don’t see him – chances are its you.

When you enter a poker game, tell everyone that you have to leave at a certain time.    That way – if you’re winning, you can leave with no hard feelings.  If you’re losing, you can stay longer.   You control your activity in the game.

Daddy always said that a man should play erratic poker for the first half hour.   By that he means, raise when you don’t have anything – – fold when you do have a good hand – – and raise when you have nothing.   let the other guys know and let them win a few small pots.

That way – – daddy said – – they’ll never get a bead on how you play.

Alter your play according to the table.   If it’s tight – then play loose.   If it’s loose – then play tight.   Remember – the play of the game will change many times during the night – – you have to change with it.

Lady luck also brings winning streaks.   Sometime during the game, you’ll hit a winning streak.  Ride it as long as you can.   Eventually it will leave you – – know when that time comes.

Daddy always said he can’t play the money.   You need to bet, call or raise – regardless of how much money you have in front of you.   You have to play like you have all the money in the world.  don’t be bought out of a pot because it seems like too much.

If you can’t afford to lose – – don’t play.

The idea that everyone has tells has some truth to it.   But – if you’re depending on the other guys tells to make your wager – – you’re not going to play your best game.

Know the odds.  Pay attention to the cards which have been played.   Know that drawing to an inside straight is 11 to 1 odds.  If you have a full house – -chances are that someone else will also have a full house.   It has to do with the cards that are available.

Those are just some of the words of advice my daddy gave me for playing poker.

And – by the way.   It’s not always the quiet guy that comes out ahead in a poker game.   Sometimes its the guy making all the noise – and – if you play with me – – I’ll be the guy making all the noise.

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County commission race expands

March 24th, 2016 by Ken

Looks like their will be a primary election for Thurston County Commissioner in the District one seat being vacated by Cathy Wolfe.

Former Olympia School Board member Allen Miller has announced he will be a candidate for the job.    He joins former Tenino police chief John Hutchings, and current Olympia City Councilmember Jim Cooper in wanting the position.   Having three candidates in the race assures voters of a Primary ballot.

In the other commission seat, being vacated by Sandra Romero, only former Thurston County Sheriff Gary Edwards has announced an interest.

Filing week is May 16-20.   The Primary election is August 2, while the General election is November 8.

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Boys will be boys – and the schools be damned

March 22nd, 2016 by Ken

If they would have had such a diagnosis when I was a kid – – I would have been medicated.

I think about that when I read recently that one out of five boys in school have been determined to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The Center for Disease Control said that 6,500,000 children – – most of them boys – – are suffering from ADHD – and that $9,000,000,000 is spent each year to control it.

No one is certain why the increase, but it’s significant.   Some attribute  the increase to over-diagnosis, others to problems with our modern society and some to drug companies which help doctors find a problem that needs their solution.   It’s probably a combination of all of those – – but I think the problem rests with our educational system.

The American educational system has been feminized.  Our schools favor girls and are stacked against boys.

In our modern school system, girls our-pace boys in almost every level of educational endeavor.   Girls are better at reading – -and they’re just as good as boys in math and science.   Girls go on to higher education in such numbers that boys are now a minority group on most college campuses.

Our modern educational system is stacked against boys.   Teachers like kids who pay attention in class – – who are quite during study periods – – who obey the rules – – and who work cooperatively with others.    Those are female  traits.

Most boys don’t sit still for long periods – – are disruptive in class – – stretch the rules – – and always compete against each other.   They seldom work cooperatively until the top dog has been identified.   Those are male traits – – and are associated with ADHD.

Boys are just being boys, but since most school teachers are female, and since many boys are now being raised in a single family female household – – these women don’t understand boys.

Boys are different from girls at birth and our educational system has shifted so far to the female side that boys are being medicated to keep them from being boys.

Let boys be boys and let the schools adjust.

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