There’s too much stake

February 5th, 2016 by Ken

With two open seats on the Thurston County Commission, it’s possible that we could go from three liberal Democratic women to three independently leaning men –  in the space of two years.

That would be a significant change in local government which seems to indicate voter disagreement with previous commissioner actions.

But, if that is the case, I’ve got to caution the candidates that local government has three responsibilities.   These are Public Safety, Public Health and Transportation.   Any campaign that deals with issues outside of those three responsibilities just shows a lack of understanding at best and a complete ignorance of government’s responsibility.

This is going to be a tough election year for those candidates seeking voter approval.     I would hope that they stick to the issues and not indulge in personal attacks.   There’s too much at stake.

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The printed word must stay

February 4th, 2016 by Ken

In the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, millions of immigrants came to the shores of the United States – – looking for freedom and a future.

Everything was new and different, and as they spread out across the country they looked for something they could understand and relate to.

And they found it – – in the American library system.

Every city and small town had a library of some sort – and the larger the city – the larger its library.   It was here that emigrants gathered, to learn English – to study for their citizenship exam and to become – Americans.

It was the library, more than any other American institution that made a country of immigrants into a nation of Americans.

It was the printed word which first gave people the freedom to learn – – and the ability to make their own decisions.   Regarding their future – the printed word – and the ability to read it – – formed the basis for the vast migration of immigrants to this country.

Now, the American library system is under pressure to modernize.   Proponents of the new technology are telling libraries that they must junk their books and embraced the wired world – – and its machines.

Many libraries have taken that step.   The Seattle Central Library is a piece of modern art which draws visitors and tourists.  But books are few and far between and places to read those books are even more scarce.   San Francisco has followed suit and New York City is in the process of junking its books and buying more computers.

What bothers me about all this move to technology is – what happens when technology changes?   What happens when – – the next big thing – – makes current technology – obsolete?

Almost everyone can read to some extent – – and for the last 600 years – words printed on paper were the way people read.

The printed word on printed paper must stay.   It’s the only thing that will remain for another 600 years.


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Replacing a legislator

February 3rd, 2016 by Ken

Graham Hunt, the disgraced legislator from the 2nd District has resigned and now his position must be filled by appointment.  The process is filled with political wrangling and infighting.

Here’s the way it works.

Since Hunt’s district spreads over two counties, the county council in Pierce and the county commission in Thurston will make the appointment of someone to take his place.    Since Hunt was a Republican, the Pierce and Thurston County Republican Party will nominate three people for consideration.   The joint-council-commissioners must appoint one of the three nominees.   If they can’t make a decision, the governor will make the choice for them.

The make-up of the Pierce County Council consists of 5 Republicans and 2 Democrats.   The Thurston County Commission is comprised of 2 Democrats and 1 Independent.   The chances of the next legislator from the 2nd Legislative District being from Thurston County is – – zilch.

The process is filled with politics.   First the Pierce and Thurston county Republicans must agree on three names.   Then the Pierce and Thurston county council and commissioners must agree on one of the three. Since the person selected will have to run for election this year the party in the minority would favor a weak candidate.   Since this is a presidential election year the chances of significant changes in the state legislature are possible.   Because Republicans from Pierce County hold the majority vote, the chances of appointing a weak candidate are slim.

While it is a serious situation and much thought will go into the process for political junkies this is great fun.  Stay tuned and we’ll keep you up-to-date.

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All politics is local

February 2nd, 2016 by Ken

With the filing deadline approaching for public office, perhaps as many as a dozen local residents are considering dipping their toes into the political process.

While national presidential politics make the news – – it’s the local people who make the laws that most impact us.   And, its the local people who will cast the ballots.   Here in Washington state we may not have much impact on who the presidential nominees will eventually be – – but we do have a great deal of say on who will make the laws that most concerns us.

All three legislative seats in the 22nd district will have new people and two county commission seats.   That’s a significant amount of new blood.

I want to remind all of those running for county commissioner that local government exists to provide three basic needs  – – public safety, public health and transportation.  The candidate that can best articulate a position on those three issues – will win.

I also want to remind those running for state legislative seats in the 22nd, that local issues still dominate – and while Democrats make up 71 percent of voters in the district, don’t neglect those who think differently than you do.

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Lacey history this week 1999

February 1st, 2016 by Ken

Bob Blume, the largest private property owner in Lacey, and the City of Lacey have reached agreement on a proposed re-development of South Sound Center.

Over the past several years, South Sound Center had deteriorated and Blume was reluctant to invest the money for redevelopment because of new environmental standards required since the mall was opened in 1966.

This week, the city and Blume signed an agreement which freed Blume from a city requirement that he build on-site stormwater treatment facilities.   In exchange, Blume agreed to pay the city $420,000 over the next 11 years.   That money would be earmarked for improvements to city stormwater facilities.

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A day in the life of a Lakefair judge

January 31st, 2016 by Ken

Capital Lakefair was selecting its 59th royal court consisting of  four princesses and a queen. I had been invited to participate as one of five judges.   Girls from 11 capital area high schools had been selected by their respective schools to represent them in that effort.  (Bet you didn’t know there were 11 high schools in the Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater area?  Actually there are 12.   One decided not to participate.)

The all-day Saturday event was being hosted by The Red Lion and started with breakfast at 8 am.  Judges, candidates and Capitalarians participated in the eating ritual.   While the nervous girls were eyeing the judges, trying to determine who we were – – the judges were also eying the social and eating habits of the young ladies.

The first interviews started at 9 am when the panel of five judges interviewed each candidate for 15 minutes.   Prepared questions were distributed to the judges so that each girl was asked the same questions.   Previously the candidates had submitted an essay on a topic of their choosing.   The essay had been judged separately by a committee from South Puget Sound Community College.   The girls were judged on poise, personality, appearance, and how they answered the questions.

From the very beginning it was obvious that candidates from the larger schools were more poised and better prepared.

After the panel judging was – – lunch.   The judges ate separately from the young ladies and talked – in general terms – – about the candidates and the process.   Following lunch was – – more interviews.   This time each judge met with each candidate for ten minutes.  The girls called it – – Speed dating.  I liked this part because it gave me an opportunity to follow up on some of the answers from the morning session and also to ask some of my own questions.   Some of the judges were better at this part than others.    The candidates were judged on the same criteria as the morning.

The judging sheets were turned in and we prepared for the evening festivities – – the big annual Coronation finale.

The room was packed with family, friends, supporters of Lakefair and Capitalarians.  The 11 participants were on stage as were the outgoing  2015 Royalty Court.    The candidates were introduced – then left the stage to reappear one at a time to give their three-minute speech,.  Judges were seated at a nearby table and judged the speeches.   The same criteria applied with the addition of speaking ability, speech content and delivery.   Then emcee Jerry Farmer asked each girl a question.   They were also judged on their response to that question.

Judging sheets were turned in and the outgoing Royalty court had an opportunity to speak while the score sheets were being tabulated.

Shortly after 9 pm the results were announced.   The 59th Lakefair Queen was Jackie DeShaye from Olympia High School.    Members of her court were Erin Hobbs, from Timberline, Rachel Pierson from North Thurston, Hailey  Sanne’ from Tumwater and Tyjai Shaw from South Sound High School.

Your Lakefair judge went home tired but with a better knowledge of young women and a feeling that the world was in good hands.

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New Coffee With Ken conversations

January 29th, 2016 by Ken

New Coffee With Ken conversations are now available simply by clicking the Coffee With Ken button.

You’ll hear an interview with Jackson Dell Weaver the General Manager of KGY and KAYO radio stations.   He talks about the future of radio, how to utilize radio to help your business and what’s ahead in the local radio market.

There’s also an interview with Laurie Dolan, a candidate for the Washington State Legislature 22nd District.   Laurie talks about her background and how it helped her to make the decision to run for public office again.

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Intercity Transit to add to traffic problems

January 28th, 2016 by Ken

If you think traffic problems around Lacey and Olympia are bad now, just wait until Intercity Transit introduces its transit signal priority (TSP) system.

Based on the system currently in use by police, fire and medic, the TSP would change signal lights to allow transit bus to proceed through an intersection without having to stop.

Anyone who has sat at a red light and noticed an emergency vehicle approaching from the other side, knows that he will sit at that intersection for several minutes before the light changes his way.  Traffic backs up for blocks and takes half an hour or more to clear.   We put up with it because these are emergency vehicles on the way to save lives or protect us from harm.

Will we have the same patience for transit buses?   A more important question seems to be – is such a system needed by Intercity Transit?

While the idea is not a new one, more urgency seems to be in order this time around, as the transit system seeks a way to increase its service, particularly at peak rush hours when their vehicles are often caught in traffic along with all of the other commuters.

There are many ways that TSP works.   If a bus is approaching an intersection with a green light, it can keep the green light going longer to allow the bus to pass through.   If a bus in approaching an intersection with a red light, it can speed up the signal to turn to green.   It can also eliminate a left turn light to allow it more time to make it through the intersection before the signal changes to red.

One of the largest cities to use TSP is Calgary which has outfitted all of its signals with a blue light which signals motorists that the signal is currently in TSP mode.  When the blue light goes out, the signal is back to normal.

There are many other ways that TSP works and I suspect that Intercity Transit is looking at all the alternatives.

Intercity Transit has not as yet advanced the idea for TSP to the citizens for comment.

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Guest editorial – The most dangerous man in America

January 27th, 2016 by Ken

By Dale Cooper

My nomination for the most dangerous man in America is none other than that earnest, sagacious chief justice of the US Supreme Court – – John Roberts.

Roberts, you see, is blessed with both the wisdom of Solomon and the rhetorical legerdemain of  a Merlin.  His two notorious decisions in the Obamacare drama proved it.  Roberts’ vastly complex and convoluted cranial circuitry processed Everest-sized mountains of testimony regarding that subject – – and come judgement day was able to manufacture rulings by using convoluted rhetorical reasoning that would be the envy of Samuel Beckett himself.

Essentially, in order to make some kind of digestible legal sausage out of the cases – Roberts cleverly found that he only needed to morph the word “fee” into the word “tax” – – and expand the definition of the word “state” to include the word “federal” and everything would come out hunky-dory.   And so, with undaunted courage and unmatched verbal virtuosity, he did it.    He proclaimed that the word “fee” really means “tax” and that the word “state” can sometimes mean “federal”.

Of course, that also made truth – slave to fancy, but that was beside the point – who cares?   After all, he is “supreme”.

But that, no matter how egregious, is not what makes Roberts the most dangerous man in America.   It’s that following those notorious rulings – –  he revealed that he did so in order to preserve the court’s status as the one branch of Liberty’s Tree, that stands above politics.  He felt that if he’d ruled otherwise the resulting confusion, chaos and turmoil would have severely damaged the court’s reputation as – – non-political.   In other words, he made inherently political decisions in order to remain apolitical.

A common understanding of words is a critical foundation and the basis of all of our laws.  It is the common law that glues everything together.   It’s what creates communities and makes virtually all of our undertakings work.  Of course, the meaning of a word – like the Mississippi River – can change over time – – but not instantly and certainly not by fiat.   Not at the discretion of a judge who chooses to divorce words from their common meaning for political ends.

It’s not only an affront to poets, writers and other guardians of our language, his reasoning damages our fundamental respect for the legal system.  And, ironically, it achieves the opposite of what Roberts thought to accomplish by his topsy-turvy judicial opinions.

We should all fear John Roberts and his Ivy League buddies.  (Five graduated from Harvard, three from Yale and one from Columbia.)   That four of them agreed with Roberts, that four of them felt words are subject to re-definition by judges – – should be seen as terrifying by those of us who care deeply about the future of our republic – – for over time that legal tactic will become a deadly arrow in the quiver of tyrants.

That’s what makes John Roberts the most dangerous man in America.

(Editors note:   “When I use a word it means what I choose it to mean” – -Humpty Dumpty )


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Lacey history this week 1976

January 26th, 2016 by Ken

Karen Fraser, the city’s first female mayor, presided over her first city council meeting.   Fraser was selected by the Lacey City Council to represent them as mayor by a 5-1-1 vote.  Others receiving votes for mayor were Bill Bush and Richard Johnson.

Annexation talks continued this week with Tanglewilde and Thompson Place residents as the city’s Annexation Committee scheduled two meetings in the affected areas.   One major issue of concern for the city was policing and public safety, as the number of saunas located along Martin Way continue to grow.

A 66-acre housing development has drawn fire from property owners.   The planned development will be at the old Lacey racetrack.   Home owners in the Homann addition adjacent to the racetrack are concerned about the impact of the housing development on schools.

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Car shopping in the 21st Century

January 25th, 2016 by Ken

(Editors note:  We’ve omitted the names of the cars.)   My wife has a 10 year-old car.  The wipers stopped working.   She loves the car and wants to drive it for another 100,000 miles.  Took it to the dealer who replaced the wiper motor.   A week later the wipers stopped working again.  You really can’t own a car in this state if the wipers don’t work.   So we took it back to the dealer for the third time.   This time they said they found the problem.  Two wires were rubbing against each other and shorting out the motor.   They replaced the motor for the fourth time.   Three days ago, the wipers stopped working.   It was then we decided that she needed a new car – – or at least a low mileage, fairly new, used car.

We drove them all – – all of those with our criteria.   New ones, used ones, some with great reputations, some with major rebates attached.

The result – – car buying the the 21st Century is more than buying a form of transportation.   Cars now not only get you from point A to point B – – but are also your living units with a measure of “Mom” attached.

Dashboards are alive with buttons, gadgets, lights and instrumentation.   Video screens in the dash connect you instantly to the world.   Where do you want to go, I’ll show you, they say.  I know the weather.   I can connect you to your party. On and on, the new cars have become your living room, entertainment center and video conferencing center.   If you want to listen to music, you have half a dozen choices of devices.

You don’t need a key to start the car anymore.  The FOB does it for you.   A friend of mine bought a brand new car and spent half an hour trying to get out of it.   He finally rolled down the window and opened the door from the outside.  Recently, while trying out a 2013 vehicle, I got locked out.   The FOB wouldn’t work and I couldn’t open the door.

And now, we bring Mom along on all trips.   The soft pleasant female voice tells us to buckle up, back up carefully, don’t go over the lines and watch out for traffic.    It also tells me when I missed my turn.

I don’t know how I was able to drive from one place to another without Mom along.

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Don’t miss all of The Real News

January 22nd, 2016 by Ken

At the top of this page is the Coffee With Ken button.   By clicking on it – you can access interviews with many local community leaders.   Jerry Farmer, former candidate for Olympia Port Commissioner talks about his narrow defeat and what he is doing now.  As a partner in a local radio station, Jerry also talks about the mission of radio and its future.

Chris Reykdal, our representative from the 22nd Legislative District, talks about education and what needs to be done.   Chris is also a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Our interview with Ann Freeman Manzanares  – the general manager of Intercity Transit  – gives us a good indication of why our local transit system is so well respected.

The Freedom Foundation has been drawing attention to the power and influence of government unions.   Its president is Tom McCabe and he pulls no punches when it comes to what he hopes will be the outcome of government unions.

And, Dick Pust, the well respected and honored radio DJ talks about his radio experiences and gives a little insight into the book he is writing.

If you’re not listening to Coffee With Ken, then you’re missing a good portion of The Real News.

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For the Children

January 21st, 2016 by Ken

Perusing our local paper, two items of interest caused me to pause.

Efforts to raise the smoking age in Washington from 18 to 21 is just another example of creating a law which does nothing except make law-breakers out of normally law-abiding people.  I can’t think of a single instance when kids who are smoking  care one whit about the legal age.   If 18 is the age of consent, the age when you can enter the military, the age when you can drive a car and the age when you can sign legal documents – – why make it against the law to smoke.   It makes no sense and just amplifies the argument that government has run amuck.  Just because a poll of adults finds 55 percent of them in favor of raising the smoking age doesn’t mean it has to be done.   Lets think this one over for a few more years before we take any stupid action to make more people criminals.

You can feed kids healthy meals but you can’t make them eat it.   That’s what’s happened with Michele Obama’s effort to make school lunches healthier.  The problem fell into two areas.   A requirement that all breads be whole wheat has been met with millions of pounds of uneaten food being thrown away by the kids.   Low sodium requirements meant that the food they were eating didn’t taste good – and it too was junked into garbage cans.  We all want our kids to eat healthy – – and we want healthy alternatives.   The government regulations didn’t allow kids an option and they showed their disgust by rebelling.  Thank goodness someone has finally gotten the smell of the rotting food.  Congress is now looking at lifting some of the strict food requirements.

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Whiskey could be the answer

January 20th, 2016 by Ken

The City of Tumwater is keeping a close eye on this legislative session.   It wants $3 million in the Capital Budget to begin development of a Craft Brewing and Distilling Center.

The money would be for land acquisition of approximately 3.5 acres of land along Capitol Boulevard and E Street – and preliminary design.   The city would work with a private developer.

Besides the money, a key element of this plan is South Puget Sound Community College.   The college’s Lacey campus currently offers a course in brewing and distilling.   If the Tumwater project comes to fruition, the city will build a 30,000 square foot educational facility to teach brewing and distilling.

The project is based on a feasibility study undertaken last year which shows the need for training and education in the art of brewing and distilling.

Currently, Washington ranks number five in the country in craft brewing.  Oregon is number one.   A new distillery opens every three months in Washington.  Our closest distillery is in Tenino.

For more information on the project contact Tumwater City Administrator John Doan at 754-4120.

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School bond to purchase “The Olympian” building

January 19th, 2016 by Ken

A $160 million dollar school bond issue in the Olympia School District will also contain money to buy “The Olympian” newspaper building and adjacent property.   Total cost of the purchase is $5 million.  The building will be used for a new district office.

Olympia School District Superintendent Dick Cvitanich said the move is necessary to allow Avanti High School to remodel and expand.   Both are currently located in the old Washington Junior High building on Legion Way.

At $160 million, the Olympia School District bond issue is the largest bond measure ever on the ballot in the Olympia School District and is $40 million more than the North Thurston bond issue a few years back.

Cvitanich said the money is needed to meet an expected district student increase of 1400 in the next ten years, remodel existing buildings to meet the requirements of smaller class size in K-3 grades and to upgrade safety and security features.  The bond issue, along with a replacement school levy will be on the February ballot.

Cvitanich said the district could move into the Olympian building without major remodeling, and would do additional remodeling and renovations only after all the other district needs are met.

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Clean air hovers over Lacey

January 19th, 2016 by Ken

The air quality in Lacey is -in a word – good.   That’s coming from the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA), which monitors the air  quality in five local counties, including Thurston County.

OK – here are the statistics.

In 2015, the air was clean and good for 286 days – or 91 percent.   It was moderate for 21 days – unhealthy for sensitive groups for 5 days and unhealthy for one day.   That one day being in December of last month.

We had a drought last summer which meant that the rain wasn’t able to wash away air particles as it usually does, and yet we had very clean air all year – except when we had one day of smoke each in July and August from Eastern Washington forest fires.

What’s more amazing about the clean air statistics, is that the monitoring station for Lacey is at Mt. View Elementary School which is located right on College Street, one of the busiest streets in the county.  If we are getting air pollution from automobiles – it isn’t showing up at the monitoring station.

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Lacey history this week 2000

January 18th, 2016 by Ken

Lacey Councilmember Jim Weber, who had been cited for trespassing and theft – two misdemeanors in the City of Tumwater  – reached an agreement with Tumwater Municipal Court and agreed to pay $75 in court costs.   If he stayed clean and had no other troubles, his record would be dismissed in six months.

The City of Lacey gave preliminary approval to the construction of Hawks Prairie Casino despite the fact that Thurston County had banned new card rooms and casinos.   City officials ruled that the builder was far enough through the application process to move forward with the project and gave its approval.

This was the last casino built in Lacey.

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Lacey Council split continues

January 14th, 2016 by Ken

Two years ago, Andy Ryder was selected by the Lacey City Council to represent the council as the mayor.  It wasn’t unanimous. He was selected by a 4-3 vote.

Last night, at its regular council meeting, Ryder was again selected as the city’s mayor – – by the same vote 4-3.   The three votes going to Virgil Clarkson who was joined by Lenny Greenstein and Jason Hearn.  A similar situation held true for Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt.

A liberal coalition of Ryder, Pratt, Jeff Gadman and Michael Steadman have consistently out-voted Clarkson, Greenstein and  Hearn on political matters.

Later in the meeting, the Lacey Council debated the merits of endorsing the upcoming North Thurston maintenance and operations school levy which is on the February ballot.  Hearn and Greenstein felt that the council shouldn’t take a stand on a ballot measure which will be going before the  voters.   The liberal coalition was joined by Clarkson and voted 5-2 to hold a public hearing on January 28 regarding the city endorsement of the levy.

In another political matter prior to the meeting, Steadman said he is 99 percent certain he will run for  the Thurston County Commission for the position being vacated by Sandra Romero.   Former Thurston County Sheriff Gary Edwards has already indicated he too will run for that seat.   Edwards will run as an independent while Steadman will run as a Democrat.


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Political and other observations

January 13th, 2016 by Ken

I thought South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was the star of last night’s State of the Union and the Republican response speech.  Haley said that President Barack Obama was an excellent orator but that his rhetoric didn’t match his action.   But she really drew my attention which she said there was enough blame to go around and criticized her own party for “following the siren call of angry voices.”   In my estimation she should be on the Republican ticket come November.

When President Barack Obama was elected, I was thankful and pleased with this country.   I fell for his call for unity and the cause of working together for the betterment of all.   His first action of passing the most all encompassing medical plan without a single vote from the other side of the aisle proved that he was better at talking than at action.   For the last six years we have lived with Obamacare and there’s no doubt that it’s here to stay.   To repeal it would upset the medical market and probably result in chaos.   He doesn’t have to worry about his legacy that’s already been set.   But I had hoped for more and didn’t get it.

A new ballot initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage to $13.50 over the next four years has support from both political parties, although some aren’t confessing to it.   The union-backed initiative is a compromise from the $15 minimum wage many had been supporting.   It was more than the $12 an hour that business wanted – – but I suspect that the business community worked with the unions in drafting the new $13.50 minimum wage initiative.  Business was scared to death that a $15 minimum wage initiative would be on the ballot this year.   If the $13.50 initiative makes the ballot, and if it is approved by the voters, the business community won’t be too upset.

It was time for Medic One Director Steve Romines to retire.   Steve had been sick for some time and had missed a lot of work.  He did work from home and he did come into the office, but his firm hand on the rein of the Medic One system was missing.  In his 24 years as director, Steve built the countywide system into one of the best in the nation.  He put it on a firm financial ground and showed what professionalism and personality can do to make a government agency respected and supported.

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Turning a mirror on male facial hair

January 12th, 2016 by Ken

What’s all this commotion about facial hair on men?

Recently The Olympian mentioned that the newest member of the Olympia City Council – -Clark Gilman – – has a beard, keeping up the tradition of previous male members of that council including former mayor Stephen Buxbaum and councilmember Steve Langer.

Then , The Wall Street Journal ran an article on the vanishing facial hair of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who grew a beard when he was selected for the position, and recently shaved it off – – after criticism from some political commentators.

Facial hair on men in politics has always been a hairy issue.  Men in politics didn’t have a beard or mustache before the Civil War.  For two decades after that, several American presidents had facial hair including Abraham Lincoln.   But, sometime around the turn of the 20th Century facial hair disappeared from men in politics with two exceptions.   Tom Dewey’s mustache was often touted as the reason he lost the presidency against clean-shaven Harry Truman.    And – – don’t forget Richard Nixon’s five o’clock shadow which explains why those on radio thought he had won his debate with John Kennedy and those watching it on television said he lost.

In local politics, we have had few men with beards or mustaches in public office.    The Olympian pointed out those on the Olympia City Council.   In Lacey, our most famous hairy guy is Graeme Sackrison, who not only served as Lacey’s mayor and a member of the Lacey City Council, but is now on the school board.  Two others currently on the city council – with beards – are Lenny Greenstein and Jeff Gadman.

Men with hair on their faces is becoming more and more common.  In the future, many of them will be running for public office.   And, while I’m not in public office, I’ve had a beard since 1966. (The picture above is from 1974.)

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