Stephanie Hemphill to leave Lacey chamber job

May 29th, 2015 by Ken

Stephanie Hemphill, who has led the Lacey chamber as executive director for about a year and a half will be leaving her job to take a position with the Association of Washington Business.

Hemphill said it’s not all about the money but also the opportunity to work with a statewide organization.

During her short tenure with the Lacey chamber, Hemphill has led the chamber to a name change – - adding South Sound – - to the name;  and began the process of moving the chamber office from Hawks Prairie to Woodland Square.

Chamber President Madeline White said the chamber will begin the process of finding a replacement for Hemphill, but will take it slow to find the perfect person for the job.  “We have good staff who can fill in during the interim,” she said.

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Port of Olympia looking at cruise ships

May 27th, 2015 by Ken

The Port of Olympia is currently looking at bringing a small cruise line to Olympia on a regular basis.

Cruise America currently stops at Port Angeles and other cities on the sound.   Olympia Port officials have made tentative inquiries and may have an answer as soon as early next year.

As proposed, the ships carry about 100 passengers and would be able to load and unload at the Port Plaza without the need to utilize the marine terminal.

An interview with Port Commissioner Bill McGregor can be accessed by clicking on the Coffee With Ken button above.

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Lacey’s plastic bag ban stays in place – - for now

May 22nd, 2015 by Ken

By the same 4-3 vote, which instituted the plastic bag ban six months ago, the Lacey City Council kept the ban in place.

Despite a recent survey, which found that 57 percent of Lacey residents responding, wanted the bag ban lifted – - it remains the law of the land.

Lacey Councilmember Lenny Greenstein used the survey results to bring the issue up Thursday before the council.   A brief but emotional debate ensued with Mayor Andy Ryder, Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt and Councilmember Jeff Gadman arguing that the survey results were NOT scientific.

“It’s the same agency which took the initial survey,” said Greenstein.  “At that time the results showed a bare 50 percent majority of residents wanted the bag ban,” he said.   “That was also an unscientific survey – - and yet we used it to justify the ban.   Now, the survey shows that 57 percent of Lacey residents want the ban lifted – -and  now the results aren’t scientific enough.”

Gadman said he was uncomfortable with the survey questions used this time and couldn’t  justify lifting the ban.

Ryder brought the discussion to a halt, when he informed the council that the Solid Waste Advisory Council (SWAC), which took both surveys, had put money aside to do a scientific survey sometime next year.

That was enough for Councilmember Michael Steadman, who was the swing vote.   “I’m going to wait for the results of that scientific survey,” Steadman said.   “But, if they don’t have it done by July of next year, then I’m going to vote to lift the ban.”

A 4-3 vote followed with Ryder, Pratt, Gadman and Steadman voting to keep the ban in place – - the same four which had originally instituted the ban in the first place.

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Lacey eliminates red light camera – maybe

May 21st, 2015 by Ken

At its Thursday night meeting, the Lacey City Council voted not to renew its contract to keep its red light camera on Pacific Avenue at Sleater Kinney.

Lacey mayor Andy Ryder said the camera is not stopping accidents at the intersection and pointed to statistics which show the rate of accidents is nearly the same as when the camera was first installed in 2006.

In 2006 there were 14 collisions and 3 injuries at the Sleater Kinney Pacific Avenue intersection.   In 2014 there were 12 collisions and 6 injuries.

The vote not to renew the contact with the private company was not unanimous.  Councilmembers Jason Hearn and Virgil Clarkson were concerned that the city could lose as much as $150,000 in revenue by the elimination of the camera.

Councilmember Jeff Gadman pointed out  that the camera should not be a revenue generator.

Elimination of the contract calls for a 90-day notification to the company.  The camera  will stay in use through August.

But, the council said it wasn’t opposed to looking at another camera at a different location and authorized staff to look at a new contract for a different location.

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No water shortage in Lacey

May 18th, 2015 by Ken

Washington governor Jay Inslee may have declared a state-wide drought emergency, but there’s no problem with Lacey’s water supply.

That’s the word from Peter Brooks, the water resource manager for the City of Lacey.

Brooks said he listened to the governor’s message with interest.   He also listened to the cities of Seattle and Tacoma as well as Snohomish County when they said they had no drought concerns this year.

Those are surface water suppliers, Brooks said.  They get some of their water from snow run-off and they’re not having any restrictions.  We get our water from underground sources.

“We don’t anticipate any problems with our water supply,” Brooks said.   “It would take many many years of drought before we have a concern.”

The City of Lacey has 21 wells which can pump about 20 million gallons of water each day.   The city also has storage facilities for about 13 million gallons.

Last year was a dry drought year.   At the peak day last year, city water use hit 13.7 million gallons.  Brooks said he anticipates a continued drought presence this year as well.

The water resource manager did stress that the city needs to keep the alternate watering days.   “It allows us to refill our storage facilities,” he said.


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New faces on Lacey school board

May 16th, 2015 by Ken

Two new faces will take their places when the North Thurston school board meets next year.  Incumbent members Leah Wells and Laurie Davies chose not to seek re-election.   In their places are two new members.

Not new particularly is Graeme Sackrison,  former mayor of Lacey who filed for the seat previously held by Davies and Dave Newkirk who filed for the seat previously held by Wells.  Neither drew opponents and will run unopposed on the November General Election ballot.

Current school board member Marcia Coppin filed for re-election and drew no opponent.

Sackrison has been a big supporter of Lacey schools and has led the local school levy campaigns for several years.

Newkirk is a former marine, a member of the Hawks Prairie Rotary Club and one of the founders of Lacey’s military family support day.   He has children in Lacey schools.

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Nine finalists for port job

May 13th, 2015 by Ken

Nine applicants have applied for the vacant position on the Port of Olympia commission.

They are:  Elizabeth Zita, Bill Wells, George Sharp, Dick Pust, Michelle Morris, Bob Jones, Lawrence Goodman, Fred Finn and Jerry Farmer.

Commissioners George Barner and Bill McGregor will narrow the list down to three or four and then interview them  in open public meetings on June 1 & 2.   Commissioners hope to make the selection known on June 10 at it’s rescheduled regular meeting.

Once sworn in the commissioner will be a regular member of the commission and will serve until the general election results are approved in November.

The person selected must choose to run for the open seat in that election if he or she wishes to retain the seat.  So far, only Jerry Farmer and Bob Jones have filed to run.

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Stay in the classroom and teach

May 8th, 2015 by Ken

Word that the Tumwater Teacher’s Union is calling a one-day strike on May 22 to protest lack of funding by the legislature was the last straw for me.

Our educational system is shot.    When unions control the agenda.  When unions control the personnel.   When unions control the entire educational system – - it’s the kids that get left out.

I suspect that teachers spend less time in the classroom teaching now -  then at any time in our history of public education.

Schools are funded by the state for the number of days they teach.   There’s no definition of “day”.   That’s why schools have late start days – - for the benefit of the teachers.   The kids get less class time.    That’s why schools have early release days – - for the benefit of the teachers.   The kids get less class time.   There are many ways that teachers spend less time in the classroom and it’s all organized by the unions.

How do kids continue to learn?

Teachers pile on loads of homework – - significantly more homework than at any previous time in our public education system.   That works fine if parents are able to devote the necessary time to helping their children.

But, parents aren’t teachers.   Only teachers can teach.

That’s why teachers should stay in the classroom and teach.

(I know the strike day will be made up at the end of the year, but we all know that no learning is done the last day of school.)

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Plastic bag ban has holes in it

May 6th, 2015 by Ken

A plastic bag ban in Thurston County is full of holes – - which could result in a partial lifting of the ban.

Nearly eight months ago, the cities of Olympia, Tumwater and Lacey adopted a ban on plastic bags at local stores.   Thurston County followed with its ban in the non-incorporated sections of the county.    The vote to ban the bags was unanimous in the county and in Tumwater and Olympia.    In Lacey, the ban was enacted by a 4-3 vote of the Lacey City Council.

But, a recent survey of the ban by the Solid Waste Advisory body found that 54 percent of all residents and 57 of all residents in Lacey, were opposed to the ban.

In Lacey, the move to revoke the ban has drawn enough support, that the Lacey City Council will hold a work session on May 21 to determine the future of the ban.

What makes repeal of the ban in Lacey a possibility is the vote of one councilmember, Michael Steadman.

Steadman originally voted for the ban but has stated that due to the survey results, he might be interested in changing his mind.

In the meantime, Lacey Mayor Andy Ryder is under pressure from his “liberal” – make that Democratic base – to not reverse the ban in Lacey.

The council is expected to hear more information on the survey and the ban at its May 21 work session, but is not expected to take action at that time.

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State auditor deserves the appearance of innocence

April 29th, 2015 by Ken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tumwater voters approve new taxes

April 29th, 2015 by Ken

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

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

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

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

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

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Interesting times in Washington state

April 24th, 2015 by Ken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The WEA should be ashamed of itself

April 20th, 2015 by Ken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Commissioners won’t call for freeholders election

April 17th, 2015 by Ken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Seattle socialist Evergreen’s commencement speaker

April 14th, 2015 by Ken

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

She was selected by the students at the college.

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

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

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

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On taxes, museums and newspapers

April 13th, 2015 by Ken

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

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

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

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



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No new athletic facilities for Evergreen

April 8th, 2015 by Ken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No new county charter says commissioner Blake

April 3rd, 2015 by Ken

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

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

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

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

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

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Roberts new fire commissioner

April 3rd, 2015 by Ken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Lacey Fire Commissioner – Thursday

March 31st, 2015 by Ken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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