Car dealer move bad news for Olympia

October 6th, 2015 by Ken

Word that Toyota of Olympia plans to move its sales lot to Tumwater is bad news for the City of Olympia.

Not only does the City of Olympia lose the sales tax revenue new and used car sales generate – – but it could signal a change in the way car dealers operate locally.

Toyota has announced that it will purchase 27-acres of land in Tumwater – with I-5 visibility – – and that it hopes to open the facility early next year.

That move is a break in the monopoly the Olympia Auto Mall has held for more than two decades.

In the 1980’s – local auto dealers  – which had been located in various spots in the Olympia/Lacey area, began moving to the westside of the city and settling in the auto mall.   This was a major economic boon to Olympia which saw its sales tax revenue climb substantially.  It is that sales tax revenue of new cars that gives Olympia the ability to spend vast sums of money without a great deal of thought.   When auto sales plummeted in 2008, Olympia suffered a major loss of revenue.   Something similar could happen again now that one dealer is planning a move.

I don’t know why the Toyota dealer decided to move.   It could be a number of things – – lack of space, lack of control, better visibility or any number of reasons.

But, the break-up of the auto mall’s monopoly is underway.   That can only be good news to Tumwater and Lacey, both of whom would benefit financially if new car dealers moved into their respective municipalities.

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Capitol Center building doomed

October 5th, 2015 by Ken

Even if Ken Brogan purchases the Capitol Center Building, and even if voters in Olympia turn down a metro parks district, the Capitol Center building will never be re-developed.

Put simply, the City of Olympia doesn’t want the building developed and will put up so many delays, requirements and costs that it will become economically unfeasible to do anything with the building.

Anyone who tries to develop anything in Olympia runs into dozens of city rules, regulations and ordinances that make any re-development almost impossible.

They start by putting unreasonable requirements on any building permit.  Then they delay any answer as long as they can.  Then they tack on fees and costs that make one question the value of the re-development.  And, once you’ve answered all their questions, obeyed all the rules and paid all the fees – – they add new ones.

The City of Olympia wants the building destroyed – – not re-developed.

And, it’s called the Capitol Center Building, has always been called the Capitol Center Building and has never been referred to as “the mistake by the lake” except by those who want to tear it down.

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Local historians meet to talk about – – archives

October 3rd, 2015 by Ken

Some 20 local historians met Saturday at the Schmidt Mansion to talk about local history, to bring themselves up to date on what each other was doing, and to see if they could work together to further the preservation, protection and promotion of local history.

The event was hosted by the Schmidt Mansion and it’s public history manager Don Trosper.   It was the second such meeting.   The first was held about six months ago.

While the attendees bemoaned the fact that Olympia didn’t have its own history museum – – it soon became clear that what was needed more than a museum was an archive to hold the vast volume of material which is quickly being gathered around the community.  A museum could follow later – after the collection is protected.

A concerted and concentrated effort is needed to convince local elected officials that such a facility is needed – – was determined to be the best course of action.

The group will meet again in six months to see where the effort has led.

(Editor’s note:   Lacey has a museum and collected material is currently being archived.   If you have documents, photos or material associated with Lacey’s history, contact the Lacey Museum curator Erin Quinn Valcho.)

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A common occurrence

October 1st, 2015 by Ken

It’s happened once again.   A young man, angry at the world or at himself, enters a school and begins shooting.

It’s so common, that police plan for it, the government has a report form for it, the media rapidly responds, and we are left wondering what to do about it.

The first call comes from those who want to ban guns.   Next are the social service agencies, which call for more money for mental health.

Then comes – – nothing.

Those are not the answers.   They’re like taking an aspirin for a backache.   It soon returns.

I don’t have a solution, but I have a suggestion or two.

Schools are “No Gun Zones.”   Those signs are everywhere around school campuses.    That’s why these angry young men pick schools to vent their anger.   They know that – no one on campus has a gun.   They can feel safe.

It’s about time that every school has someone who can shoot and has authority to carry a gun.   I know this runs against the common ideas currently in effect.

But – I can’t help but thinking – if someone had a gun in the school, perhaps the gunman would have killed less victims.

The second thought has to do with the media.  These young men want the attention that comes with their evil act.   The media responds – – and that creates additional young men who want the attention.

Perhaps the media should downplay the shootings by not naming the individual responsible for the act.  And, not running the story over and over and over again until some other heinous act draws their attention away.

These actions won’t stop all angry young men from attempting this act again – – but perhaps it can stop some – and perhaps the death toll won’t be so large.

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Social security is a contract for all working people

October 1st, 2015 by Ken

I have an uncle – – let’s call him Sam.

Uncle Sam started his business career selling used cars.   He got into selling new cars, then fleet sales and eventually he began selling trucks to large utility companies.

He then began remodeling those trucks to meet the needs of the company – – with such things as lifts, blades and other parts as  needed.   Before long he had a manufacturing plant and then two plants.

When he retired at the age of 65 he was worth millions – – yet the one thing he looked forward to was getting his social security check.   “I worked all my life, paying into the system,” he told me one time.  “It’s my money, I worked for it, and I deserve it.”

What he didn’t tell many people was that his social security check was donated every month to charity – – to help working men down on their luck.

Recent efforts to deny social security benefits to those who make a great deal of money – should talk to my Uncle Sam.   When he started working, he didn’t know he would end up rich.   He paid into the system like everyone else and looked forward to the day he could retire.

The social security check was his contract with the government.

Who wants to live in a country whose word couldn’t be trusted.

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Service animals need regulation

September 30th, 2015 by Ken

I was in Fred Meyer in Lacey the other day and a woman had a dog on a leash inside the store.   The dog crapped on the floor and the woman just ignored it and hurried out the door.

It’s fairly common now to see animals – – usually dogs – – in the shopping carts of customers – – or someone carrying a dog wrapped in a baby blanket and even pushed around  in a baby stroller.

I was in a local restaurant recently when a couple came into the place, both carrying a dog.   They sat down in a booth near me and placed their dogs on the seats.

I asked the waitress to tell them that animals were not allowed in restaurants.  She replied – that company policy forbid them to say anything about animals – because the company was concerned about getting sued if the animals were service  animals.

So, I approached the couple and asked about their dogs.   I started out by saying, I noticed you brought your dogs into a place where people eat.   Do you think that’s wise?

They replied – – fairly friendly – that the dogs were service animals.   That each of them had heart problems and that the dogs warned them if people were approaching  – so they wouldn’t be startled.

And that folks, is the problem.

The rules and regulations regarding service animals is left up to the interpretation of the individual.    Business owners are afraid to say anything and customers are usually intimidated.

We need better rules and regulations regarding the use of service animals.   They need to be licensed and each animal needs a tag – – or the owner must show proof that the animal is a medically approved service animal.

I’m tired of sharing my public space – designed for humans – – with animals.

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Fraser contemplates bid for Lt. Governor

September 29th, 2015 by Ken

22nd District State Senator Democrat Karen Fraser confirmed that she is thinking about running for Lieutenant Governor in 2016.   Her decision will be dependent on whether current Lieutenant Governor Democrat Brad Owen decides to seek re-election.

Fraser has previously held three other elective offices.   She was on the Lacey City Council (where she served as mayor), a Thurston County Commissioner, a state representative and is now the current state senator.   That’s an impressive list of elective offices.

But Fraser is not the local leader in the number of elective offices held.   That title goes to Mike Kreidler.

Kreidler served on the North Thurston School Board, as 22nd District State Representative, as 22nd District State Senator, in Congress as a Congressional Representative and currently as Washington State Insurance Commissioner.  That’s five different elective offices.

Judy Wilson has served in three different elective offices including Thurston County Commissioner, North Thurston School Board and currently as Lacey Fire Commissioner.

Several of our local elected officials have served in two different elective offices.

(Editors note:  If you know someone local who has held three or more elective offices – let me know.)

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“The Olympian” circulation drop stabilizes

September 28th, 2015 by Ken

Paid subscriptions to “The Olympian” appears to have stabilized somewhat during the past year.

As released by the newspaper, paid subscribers to the paper were 16,464 as of the end of September this year.   Last year the paper reported 17,192 – – a drop of only 628 paid subscribers during the past year.

As required by law, all publications which use the US Mail, must report who owns and manages the paper each year no later than the first week of October, as well as its circulation figures.  I’ve been keeping track of “The Olympian’s” circulation since 1983.

New this year in its reporting, is who is managing the newspaper.   Last year the publisher was George LeMasurier.   This year the publisher is listed as David Zeeck, who is also the publisher of “The (Tacoma) News Tribune.”

A loss of around 600 subscribers is actually good news for the newspaper.   Over the past several years it has seen significant declines in subscribers every year, sometimes in the thousands.

That’s also good news for the community which needs a consistent, professional news service to keep us informed.

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Ethanol – bad for engines

September 25th, 2015 by Ken

With the coming of fall, I pulled out my generator the other day and got it ready for the windstorms which typically come in October and  November around here.

I couldn’t get it started so I took it into my local dealer for repairs.   After paying $275 to get it fixed, he gave me a word of advice.   “Don’t use gasoline with ethanol in it.”   He explained that ethanol will gum up the works if it sits too long.

He gave me the name of a fuel station that carries gas without ethanol.

That got me thinking about ethanol in general.   About how we take corn – – a food product – – and make it into fuel to burn in our cars.   It’s a requirement of the federal government.

But, not only does taking corn out of production raise the price of beef,  it also has no reason to be made into gasoline in the first place.

It’s not a clean-burning replacement for petroleum products.   Recent findings show that ethanol contributes 8 percent more bad stuff into the air than petroleum based gasoline.

Billions of dollars are spent on ethanol and there is no reason to take corn out of the food chain to make it.

Blame the farm states and their congressional representatives for this boondoggle of a taxpayer rip-off.

Oh, and don’t use gas with ethanol in your small engines, particularly if you let them sit for months at a time.

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Unsubstantiated rumor

September 24th, 2015 by Ken

Rumor has it that the Port of Olympia is looking at purchasing the 54 acres of property in Hawks Prairie owned by South Puget Sound Community College.

Sources say they may look at creating a business incubator which not only fosters new business, but would also operate as a training ground for students to learn work skills – – maybe in conjunction with one of the colleges.

Remember – this is unsubstantiated – I just like the concept and idea of it so I’m spreading the rumor.

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Lacey’s former mayors to meet

September 23rd, 2015 by Ken

What’s a group of  former mayors called?

In Lacey, such a group is called a “Leadership Council” and soon they will be adding their collective wisdom to helping Lacey move into its second 50 years.

Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder has created the Leadership Council as an advisory group to him and the current council.   All former mayors of Lacey have been invited to be part of the group.

“I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while,” Ryder said.   “When the council started talking about creating a Transportation Benefit District, I thought getting the opinion of the former mayors was a good idea.”

Ryder didn’t say if he asked for that advice, but sees the city’s 50th Anniversary as an excellent opportunity to get the mayors together. “Who knows more about Lacey from a historical perspective than they do,” he said.

The city is currently setting up a meeting of the Leadership Council for next month.   The city’s 50th Anniversary Committee will make a presentation.

No date has been firmed up.

(Additional information:   Lacey has had several mayors in its 50 years.  Because the mayor is selected by the city council,  a new mayor can be appointed anytime he or she can get four votes on the city council.  The oldest mayor still living is Bill Bush.  Next is Karen Fraser who was also  the first woman mayor of Lacey.   Lacey has had three other women mayors including Kay Boyd, Gene Liddell and Nancy Peterson.)

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Some judges owe their election to the WEA

September 22nd, 2015 by Ken

Recently, in this blog, I wrote that several of the judges on the Washington State Supreme Court owe their election to the Washington Education Association (WEA).

I noted that perhaps that was why the court was supporting all of the positions of the state teacher’s union.

Today, “The Olympian” on its editorial page, implied that the $1900 in campaign money the WEA gave to the judges wasn’t enough to buy anything and that perhaps critics of the WEA were just “paranoid.”

“The Olympian” failed to point out that the WEA gives more than just $1900 to the judges.  Through its contacts, it also encourages local teacher unions to support certain judges with their own contributions.

Independent expenditures from WEA committees – with no spending limits –   also contributed to electing the judges endorsed by the group.

And, the local teacher unions also turn out hundreds of “volunteers” to make phone calls, doorbell and wave signs.

It’s more than the money the WEA contributes to the judges election campaigns.  It’s the coordinated effort the state teacher’s union makes that “buys” the support of the judges in education related court cases.

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Traffic and growth tops poll of concerns

September 21st, 2015 by Ken

Traffic problems tops a recent poll of concerns by local residents.

Taken on behalf of the  Thurston Climate Action Team, the poll was originally designed to ascertain the interest and concern of Thurston County residents on the issue of climate change.

The survey found that the issue was far down the list of concerns expressed by respondents to the poll.

Traffic was listed by 24 percent of the respondents as their main issue of concern.  Another 16 percent said population growth – – which could partly account for the traffic problem.

Growth management came in third with 9 percent – – also connected with population growth.

Other issues in single digits were:  homelessness, water supply, budget, taxes, education, crime,  housing and jobs.    Climate change – – the purpose of the study – – came in dead last in the survey with only 2 percent saying it was their top concern.

Even when people were allowed to make a second choice, climate change still came in on the bottom rung.

With the backing of all three local colleges and universities, a public form was held in downtown Olympia to solicit specific questions for the survey.

Stakeholders (environmental groups) helped select the students who made the calls and asked the questions.

Some 3000 Thurston County residents with landlines and 1800 with mobile numbers were called at random.   Some 510 respondents answered the question.   “What do you consider to be the top two issues facing Thurston County in the next five years.”   There were enough responses to ensure a 95 percent confidence level.

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Taxing question

September 18th, 2015 by Ken

Who makes the decisions which cost taxpayers money?

That’s the question Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder wanted to know when he asked it during a Lacey City Council work session last night.

Like the other cities of  Tumwater and Olympia, – – Lacey belongs to more than a dozen regional boards and commissions – – some of which have taxing authority and some of which depend on fees for services.

The cities have representatives on these boards and commissions such as Intercity Transit, LOTT, Animal Control  and the Olympic Regional Clean Air Authority – – just to name a few.

Ryder was concerned that financial decisions are often made at these regional boards which fiscally impacts the city’s budget.    “The city needs more time to determine the impact of these decisions affecting our general fund,” Ryder said.

He also expressed concern that personal opinions of the individual representatives may not be the opinion of the entire city council.   Who makes the decisions when a vote is being taken on a fiscal matter, Ryder asked?

The council wrestled with the question.   They agreed that more information needed to be shared about regional board actions.   One solution that seemed to gain some support was to have the directors of the various boards and commissions join the council a couple of time a year to inform them of future financial plans.

(Personal opinion) – – This is a long time in coming.   The LOTT Board constantly raises the fees it charges to local governments without much discussion by the city councils.    Intercity Transit runs bond issues on the ballot without coordinating with city or local school districts.   Regional government works for the most part, most of the time.   But taxpayers often have no say on how these regional boards spend the money.  Individual councilmembers are our only source of control – and they often have their own agenda.)

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The Donald is exposed

September 17th, 2015 by Ken

The Trump Effect was in full bloom last night as nearly 23 million viewers turned into the Republican debate on CNN last night.  Those types of figures for a political event were highly unusual.

But, the next debate won’t pull anywhere near the number of viewers.   Donald Trump- – the maverick non-politician reached the peak of his popularity.    Many of those who tuned in to watch his performance, won’t tune in the next time around.

The Donald has shown his real colors.   He’s a school yard bully, whose response to those who criticized him was to call them names and denigrate them.   He had no answers to tough questions.

The curtain has been pulled back to expose a shallow, egotistical megalomaniac.

The wizard has been exposed.

It’s all downhill for The Donald from here on out.

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What’s the purpose of college?

September 16th, 2015 by Ken

There was a time in this country when going to college meant getting a good education.

Colleges had required courses – in math, in science, in the humanities, in history, in philosophy – – in many different subjects.  Students were required to take these classes in order to graduate with a well-rounded understanding of life.

Now – the whole idea of going to college – is to get a good paying job upon graduation.

When did the concept of going to college – – as a means to getting a good job – – become paramount over education and the making of a good citizen?

It’s true – – that those with a college degree will make hundreds of thousands of dollars more in their working lifetime then someone with just a high school diploma – – but that shouldn’t be the only reason one goes to college.

The idea that college is the only pathway to a good job happened when our blue collar jobs began to disappear and head overseas.

Prior to that time – – someone with just a high school education could make a good living in manufacturing or in the service industries.   But, when those jobs disappeared – – college became the way.

This is the pathway to nirvana became the watchword – – and thousands upon thousands of students flocked to college for the purpose of getting a good job.

The idea of a good education and becoming a well-rounded citizen was far from the minds of most.

Colleges – – eager to latch onto these newly converted college students – – began to lower admission standards – – eliminate previously required subjects – – and allowed an easier path towards a degree.

And, while some colleges lowered standards more than others – – all colleges were impacted.  Even the prestigious universities now tout how much money their graduates make upon entering the workforce.

But  – – our society suffered and continues to suffer – – by a lack of truly educated citizens – – many of whom have such a narrow focus that they no longer understand the commonalities which make us a unique country.

Getting a good job is a reason to go to college – – but it isn’t the only reason.

Our colleges need to stop bowing to the current crisis and put their feet back towards educating well-rounded citizens.

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Observations on the news

September 15th, 2015 by Ken

It didn’t take long.   Once the county commissioners opened the “new” jail it decided to spend more taxpayer money and look at building itself a new home – – a new Thurston County courthouse.  A hired consultant said it would cost nearly $200 million to bring the courthouse site up to modern standards.   I wonder – – what constitutes “modern.”   Included in that cost is a new parking garage.   Keep an eye on these commissioners.   I see another boondoggle ahead.

Speaking of county commissioners.   Already people are lining up to step into the job.   Cathy Wolfe is not running for re-election – the story goes – – and its possible that Sandra Romero may not seek re-election either.  Bear in mind, that they are still responsible for the $10 million dollar law suit and a half-a-decade empty jail, built after taxpayers said no.  The loss of Karen Valenzuela last year has to have the remaining two thinking about retiring.   Several current local elected officials are eyeing their chances.

The Marine Corps recent study on women in combat concluded that women can’t perform as well as men and that mixed gender combat units found that romantic entanglements often resulted in mission distraction.  Those of us who had been in the military could have told them that.   While women play a vital role in our military, they can’t do all the physical work that combat requires.  In addition, combat is a matter of life and death.   Distractions could result in death.

Seven of our Washington State Supreme Court Justices took substantial amounts of money from the Washington Education Association in their last election or re-election bid.  It was this same group of justices which recently declared the non-union charter schools – – illegal.   This same group of judges declared that the legislature had to come up with billions of dollars of new taxpayer money for schools – – and that they would determine when the amount was right.   When will voters rein in the abuses of the teacher’s unions and the judges they bought?


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Quote of the week

September 13th, 2015 by Ken

With political rhetoric all around us this election year we should keep in mind this quote from Mark Twain – – A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on it’s shoes.

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Gadman may seek county seat

September 11th, 2015 by Ken

Lacey City Councilmember Jeff Gadman, has not ruled out a run at a county commission seat next year.

While saying he is devoting his time and effort to his city council job, he also acknowledge that he does have future political ambitions.   Running for a county commission seat will depend on whether or not the incumbent seeks reelection, he said.

Gadman made those comments on Coffee With Ken, on Wednesday.   The complete interview can be accessed by clicking on the Coffee With Ken button at the top of this page.

Gadman is being challenged in his reelection bid by Bill Frare  (pronounced like prairie).   He is the only incumbent Lacey councilmember to draw an opponent.  Both Jason Hearn and Lenny Greestein are running unopposed.

This election is important to the future of the City of Lacey because it also will determine who the next mayor of the city will be.   The Lacey council selects its own mayor who represents the city to the community and who appoints members to the city’s various boards and commissions.  (I am currently a member of the Lacey Parks Board.)

The most recent council election found Andy Ryder selected mayor by a 4-3 vote.   Gadman voted for Ryder.    If Gadman were to be defeated, its possible that Ryder will not be re-appointed to his mayor job.

Gadman has sought higher public office before.   In 2010 he ran for the Thurston County Assessor position.

It has always been felt by the local political establishment that Gadman would eventually run for higher office.   Most often mentioned is county commissioner.

Gadman is in the commissioner district of Sandra Romero.   Romero has not yet announced if she will seek re-election in 2016, but rumors have her retiring.

In the meantime, Gadman says he is concentrating on representing the citizens of Lacey and running his campaign for re-election to the Lacey City Council.

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September 10th, 2015 by Ken

It’s been 14 years since terrorists launched an attack on the United States to force us to fight a religious war.

That attack has had a major impact on our country.    We’ve been at war for more than a decade – and the world is not a better place because of it.

We have found and killed almost everyone connected to the hijacking and the resulting destruction of the twin towers, and the devastation of the Pentagon.

We’ve fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in many other Middle Eastern countries.  American forces are currently engaged in action in Syria, Libya, Somalia and other countries not currently known to us.

Our two presidents – –  George W. Bush and Barrack Obama – – have made major errors and mistakes in their war on terror.   The invasion of Iraq, which created instability – –  and then the pullback of troops from that country, which left a vacuum that was filled by Iran.  The sideshow of the Arab Spring, which upset established governments to be replaced by partisan religious factions.   Comments from the “bully pulpit” have set the bar higher than anyone could reach.   And, the red line in the sand and the resulting non-action-  confirmed to terrorist groups that America would do nothing.

Here in the “homeland” we’ve allowed government scrutiny of almost every phase of our life – – all in the name of “security”.   It has worked.   We’ve had no foreign terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001.

I have a feeling that this country is fed up with the war on terror.   It wants to lighten the restrictions placed upon them by the government, particularly when it comes to travel.   It wants to de-militarize the police and get back to happier times.  And, it wants to get us out of Middle East and bring the troops home.

The only problem – – the terrorists don’t have the same idea.

And, our elected officials have no plans on how to deal with that.



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